LONDON — In an attempt to avert a pandemic stemming from the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) from livestock to humans, infectious disease experts with GlobalData, a data and analytics company, endorsed a preventative and proactive approach to avoid human-to-human transmission of the virus.

After detection of the H5N1 strain of the HPAI virus was discovered in 49 dairy herds in nine states and two dairy farmworkers, health officials with the US government developed two vaccine options, which are in the country’s stockpile, to prevent the transmission of it between humans even though there has been no proof of it being transmissible between humans.

In the event of outbreaks among humans, hundreds of thousands of doses of these vaccines could be shipped out within weeks, and over 100 million doses within three to four months, according to GlobalData.

“Although H5N1 infections in humans are rare, they can cause severe disease and should be taken seriously,” said Stephanie Kurdach, infectious disease analyst at GlobalData. “According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the mortality rate among humans infected with influenza A(H5N1) is approximately 50%.”

GlobalData identified 13 vaccines in clinical development (Phases I-III) designed for pandemic influenza/influenza H5N1. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US Department of Interior, the US Department of Agriculture, and state and local health departments are monitoring the spread of the virus and assessing its risks to be passed to humans. This surveillance includes public health laboratories, emergency departments, clinical laboratory trends and wastewater sources.

“These precautionary measures being taken by the US government are essential in order to prepare for and mitigate the effects of a potential pandemic, which is a possibility if viral mutations allow H5N1 to be readily transmitted between humans,” Kurdach said.

Based on predictions from WHO, the next pandemic is expected to be caused by the influenza virus.

“Although the current risk of infection with influenza A(H5N1) to the general public is low, it is important to avoid contact with domestic and wild birds, and to cook poultry products well,” Kurdach said.