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THE discovery of a rare but highly contagious virus which has killed pigeon flocks in Victoria does not pose a major risk to humans, experts say.
Several pigeons have died and a number of properties in northern Victoria have been quarantined amid Australia's first outbreak of avian paramyxovirus (APMV) in pigeons.
Indeed, the world witnessed a devastating pandemic in 1918-1919 when the Spanish flu claimed the lives of 20 to 40 million people, one third of the world population at the time.
Interestingly, the H5N1 virus has been shown to have structural similarities with the 1918 virus, a bad omen if the virus ever mutates into a pandemic strain.
Only time will tell if the latest developments on the bird flu stage have set wings in motion for a bird flu pandemic. But one thing is certain: the world cannot afford to let its guard down. Bird flu may have fluttered in and out of the news recently but you never know when it may end up in your backyard.