Avian flu — or H5N1 — is a deadly disease, although not one that typically affects humans.
It’s been going around globally for decades, but there have been no cases of human-to-human transmission. Human cases instead typically result from interactions with sick birds. When it does infect humans, the mortality rate is more than 50%—on par with ebola and about 16 times higher than covid.
That’s why recent outbreaks, especially involving mammals like us, have been cause for concern in a world suffering from post pandemic stress. Since the beginning of the year, health officials have recorded several worrying episodes. In Peru, more than 700 sea lions died of avian flu, which they likely contracted through their contact with pelicans, thousands of which also died from the disease.