Preprint Review Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Expression of Concern with Regards to the Current Stages of Avian Influenza A (H5N1) Zoonotic Spillover into Humans

Version 1 : Received: 27 March 2023 / Approved: 28 March 2023 / Online: 28 March 2023 (09:20:04 CEST)
Version 2 : Received: 8 April 2023 / Approved: 10 April 2023 / Online: 10 April 2023 (04:45:04 CEST)
Version 3 : Received: 26 April 2023 / Approved: 27 April 2023 / Online: 27 April 2023 (02:56:58 CEST)

How to cite: Carp, T.-N. Expression of Concern with Regards to the Current Stages of Avian Influenza A (H5N1) Zoonotic Spillover into Humans. Preprints 2023, 2023030477. Carp, T.-N. Expression of Concern with Regards to the Current Stages of Avian Influenza A (H5N1) Zoonotic Spillover into Humans. Preprints 2023, 2023030477.


The Influenza A Virus (IAV) represents a positive-sense, single-stranded RNA-based virus that infects mammals mainly via the respiratory system, although other bodily systems are also infected and undergo various extents of inflammatory pathogenesis. There are two well-known strains of IAV that cause life-threatening disease in mammals; H1N1 and H5N1, and the first strain caused the 1918 IAV H1N1 pandemic that claimed between 30 and 50 million human lives. Due to the significant ability of IAV to evade important immune recognition, the virus was observed to favor the onset of secondary microbial infections (i.e. bacterial or fungal), as the overall performance of the immune system became transiently weakened during the viral infection. During the IAV H1N1 pandemic, many patients died as a result of bacterial pneumonia, as pathogenic bacteria, such as Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae, gained a wider opportunity to colonize and infect vital areas of the lower respiratory tract, and such a phenomenon led to the excessive, prophylactic usage of antibiotics due to the increased levels of panic, which in turn favored the natural selection of bacteria with genes that became resistant to such antibiotics. Antibiotics might be required for usage solely when bacteria are known to be colonizing vital areas of the human body, and this aspect is tricky, as colonization is asymptomatic and screening is consequently rare. Recently, new variants of the avian IAV H5N1 strain were transmitted from live, infected birds to mammals, including humans in some isolated cases, and given that there have already been several zoonotic spillover events overall since the beginning of 2023, we are rapidly approaching the time when a zoonotic spillover into humans will mark the first epidemic outbreak of the avian flu in humans. A lethality rate of 60% was projected by the World Health Organization, as the virus was shown to favor the development of life-threatening hyper-inflammatory responses at the levels of alveolar tissues constituted by Type II pneumocytes. There are hints that novel variants of H5N1 are capable of infecting the intestinal layer, as recently, two dolphins died as a result of ingesting infected birds within the area of the British Isles. IAV is known to suppress the production and transmission of Type I Interferons by expressing various non-structural proteins (NSPs), such as NSP1, which was found to be also packaged into exosomes and transmitted to neighboring uninfected cells, thereby preventing them from responding to the virus in the first place. A more pronounced rate of innate immune evasion would probably be observed in H5N1 IAV infection than in the infection caused by recent variants of H1N1 IAV. The H5N1 strain of IAV was also found to secrete a higher concentration of NSP1 than SARS-CoV-2, indicating the existence of an association to the greater mortality rate of H5N1 IAV infection. A direct, prophylactic stimulation of the interferon system using a reduced oral or nasal dosage of recombinant anti-inflammatory and anti-viral interferon glycoproteins may represent the most viable approach to prevent an emergence of a life-threatening H5N1 IAV pandemic. A similar non-invasive approach could be developed for an Marburg Virus (MARV) and a Nipah Virus (NiV) infection of humans, as risks of the emergence of a Marburg epidemic and also of a Nipah epidemic may be substantial at this stage as well. Clinical testing of clinical approaches as such could be of critical importance at the moment. Animals could also benefit from related clinical approaches.


H5N1; Influenza A; first-line immunity; interferon; mucosal antibodies; immune evasion; sialic acid receptor; natural lymphocytes; adaptive lymphocytes; monocytes; macrophages; cytokines


Biology and Life Sciences, Immunology and Microbiology

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