How can we combat bird flu? With One Health and gene editing

First U.S. case of human infected with bird flu reported in Colorado

Hundreds of birds washing up on Martha’s Vineyard are the latest proof of the global surge in avian flu—and the need for biotech solutions to help keep birds, humans, and the economy healthy, says Good Day BIO.

“This year’s outbreak of the H5N1 virus has resulted in the deaths of nearly 400,000 wild birds worldwide,” reports the New York Times.

“The geographic extent of detection, the number of species that we’re getting with detections, the amount of disease we’re seeing in wild birds, this is all unprecedented,” U.S. Geological Survey research wildlife geneticist Andy Ramey told the New York Times. “It’s unknown territory and hard to know what to expect.”

While the danger to the general population is relatively minimal, the CDC cautioned earlier this year that specific groups might be at risk of exposure—and that avian flu could cost the poultry industry tens of millions of dollars if it spreads.

Scientists can use gene editing to create chicken embryos resistant to avian flu and other devastating illnesses, but this approach confronts problems such as public misunderstandings and regulatory challenges, as Good Day BIO reported last year.

In the meantime, policymakers need to take a One Health approachwhich can stop outbreaks by recognizing the links between the health of animals, humans, and the planet.

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