Nursing free essay: H5N8 variant of Avian Influenza
H5N8 variant of Avian Influenza
Avian influenza is a communicable disease caused by A(H5N8) virus. The disease mainly affects birds, and sometimes spreads to poultry. Highly pathogenic A(H5N8) viruses were detected in birds and poultry in Asia and Europe in 2014 (World Health Organization, 2016). The countries in which birds were found to be affected include Northern Ireland, Britain, Russia, Korea, Netherlands, Japan, Italy, Germany and China. In the late 2014, the virus was also detected in the US. The virus has also been detected in European and Asian countries since June 2016 (World Health Organization, 2016). Researchers have found that the A(H5N8) virus can spread to human beings leading to sickness and/or death. Although not cases of human infection have been detected from the recent outbreak, cases of human infection from one lineage of the viruses called 18.104.22.168 A(H5N6) have been detected in the past in China. Researchers have found that a lineage of those viruses called A(H5N8)/A(H5N2), which was detected recently in the US, can spread easily to human beings when they come into contact with infected birds. Based on evidence from scientific research, human immunity against A(H5N8) is very minimal. Since 2014, the there have been 16 cases of human infection from 22.214.171.124 A(H5N6) that have been reported, 6 of which were fatal. The data suggests that the risk of human infection from A(H5N6) viruses is low, but there is possibility that the infections can occur.
If a case of human infection is suspected among passengers or any other person in the aviation industry, the airline flight crew, air passengers and ground support personnel must communicate and coordinate in order to prevent it from spreading further to people that are not infected (Bennett & Tomossy, 2009). If a passenger is suspected to have the A(H5N8) virus prior to the departure, the flight crew should report the issue immediately to the ground support manager. The ground support manager should then report about the issue to the relevant authorities in that country. At the same time, the authorities may require all or a few passengers to be screened by medical experts to determine whether they have the disease (Bennett & Tomossy, 2009). If one or more passengers are found to have the virus, they should not be allowed to depart. If no case is detected, the passengers are allowed to embark and depart.
In some cases, signs of human infection from A(H5N8) virus can be detected after the departure of an aircraft. In that case, the flight crew should respond very cautiously. First, the passenger who is infected should be segregated from the other passengers and should be given a mask that can help to contain the disease. When doing that, the flight crew should also wear masks and hand gloves to avoid getting the infection. Also, the crew should avoid touching fluids from the infected person. At the same time, the ground support personnel in the place where the airplane is headed to should be informed about the issue. After the arrival, the ground support personnel should guide the pilot in command where to park the airplane. The relevant authorities in that country should also be informed in advance. The passengers onboard should be disembarked as soon as possible. Screening should be done on the infected passenger to confirm that he/she has the A(H5N8) virus. In case of a need, the other passengers, especially those that had stayed close to the infected person, should also be screened (World Health Organization, 2009). As such, effective response to cases of suspected A(H5N8) virus requires coordination and communication between the people who are onboard and the people controlling the flight from the ground.
International Law on the transportation of Passengers with A(H5N8) Virus
The main international laws do not focus on the regulation of the spread of A(H5N8) virus only. Instead, they focus on all communicable diseases in general. There are different laws that provide guidance on how cases of communicable diseases should be responded to in the aviation industry. First, the guidelines are set in International Health Regulations that were developed by World Health Organization (WHO) in 2005 (Davies & Youde, 2015). The guidelines are also included in the laws established by other bodies that work together with WHO, including the International Air Transport Association, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Airports Council International and International Civil Aviation Organization. All the international regulations agree on the fact that communicable diseases in air travel should be contained in the places where they have been detected. The regulations stipulate that in order to contain the communicable diseases effectively, the person or persons found to be infected should be separated from other people who are not infected. In this regard, if a person is found to have Avian influenza prior to departure of an airplane, the international laws stipulates that he/she should not be transported (Davies & Youde, 2015). Instead, the infected person should be separated from other people and be given treatment. However, in situations where a person is found to have A(H5N8) virus after departure of an airplane, the laws stipulate that the person should be transported up to the next destination. Containment through separation and treatment should thus be done in the next destination. The regulations stipulate that while the infected person is onboard, the flight crews should do everything possible to ensure that the disease is contained, including separating the sick person from other passengers (Davies & Youde, 2015).
Nations’ Influence under the International Laws
Nations that are members of the international bodies that set aviation regulations are compelled to adhere to those regulations. In case a passenger is found to have A(H5N8) virus while onboard, the country of destination is responsible for dealing with the issue. The screening process may require the passengers o disembark after arrival. After the screening process is completed, the passengers are allowed to embark. Those operations are guided by the international laws. For instance, annex 1 of the International Health Regulations describes the processes and operations that should be adopted at the point of destination in case a person is found to have avian influenza or any other communicable disease. Under the current regulations, nations should not prevent the passengers from disembarking. However, there are situation in which the nations are required to prevent embarking. Under the International Health Regulations, for instance, the passengers that are found to be infected with A(H5N8) virus should not be allowed to embark. Instead, the nation of destination should adopt ways of containing the disease through separating the infected persons from other travelers. Instead of embarking, the infected persons should be taken to destinations for treatment within the country of destination. Also, the passengers who are not infected can be prevented from embarking temporarily. Under the international laws, the passengers who are not infected should only be allowed to embark after through screening is completed to make sure they do not have the A(H5N8) virus. Also, the passengers’ personal details are taken before the passengers are allowed to embark.
Legal implications on Airlines
Under the international laws, the responsibility for determining whether or not passengers have infectious diseases before departure does not rest on the airlines. Rather, it is the responsibility of the health authorities in that country and the relevant operators at the airport. The flight crew assumes that risks of communicable diseases are addressed well by the health authorities in that country (World Health Organization, 2008). In case any passenger is suspected to have communicable disease such as avian influenza and has already departed with the other passengers, the airlines are not punished for the mistake. However, there can be legal ramifications to an airline in a case where a passenger starts showing symptoms of avian influenza when flying, yet the signs were not there before departure and the flight crew fails to take the necessary actions to contain the disease. For instance, the crew may fail to separate the infected person from the other passengers after confirming about the infection and consequently. If the negligence leads to the spread of the disease to the other passengers, the airline can be compelled to pay a fine. In extreme cases, the airline can be required to cease its operations until it established approaches of dealing with cases of communicable disease outbreak during flight (World Health Organization, 2008). Also, an airline can face legal ramifications if the crews fail to communicate properly about a case of outbreak of A(H5N8) virus among the passengers. A good example is a situation in which the flight crew notices that one or more passengers have shown the symptoms of infection from A(H5N8) virus. The crew fails to report about the issue to the ground support personnel and after the arrival, the infected persons are allowed to disembark without being screened. In such a case, the airline involved can be compelled to pay a fine (World Health Organization, 2008).
Response steps by governments
There are several steps that a country such as a government, such as the government of Saudi Arabia, should take in order to adhere to the international aviation conventions when dealing with passengers that are suspected to have H5N8) virus. The first step is to aggregate the passengers from other people after the arrival. This step is important since it will prevent the disease from spreading to other people. The second step is to take the identities of the passengers and other information in order to determine their nationality, where they are coming from and where they are heading to. At that point, the baggage of each passenger should be kept safe. The third step is to involve health professionals in screening the passengers to determine whether or not they have the A(H5N8) virus. Information about all the passengers that are found to be infected should be communicated to all the relevant governments immediately. For instance, the governments home countries of the passengers, the countries where they have come from and where they are going to should be informed. At the same time, international organizations that are interested in the information, such as WHO, should be informed. The net step should be to make arrangement for the treatment of the infected passengers. Announcements should also be made to the public about the issue. The last step is to release the passengers that are not infected.
Bennett, B., & Tomossy, G. F. (2009). Globalization and Health: Challenges for health law and
bioethics. Dordrecht: Springer Science & Business Media.
Davies, S. E., & Youde, J. R. (2015). The Politics of Surveillance and Response to Disease
Outbreaks: The New Frontier for States and Non-state Actors. Burlington; Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
World Health Organization (2008). International Health Regulations. Geneva: World Health
World Health Organization (2009). Guide to Hygiene and Sanitation in Aviation. Geveva: World
World Health Organization (2016). Assessment of risk associated with influenza A(H5N8) virus.
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