rakhesh shows …

February 19, 2006

Bird Flu

Filed under: Links — rakhesh @ 9:44 pm

I am watching Oprah on Star World. Tonight’s show is about bird flu. Some expert is talking about how we should all be prepared; and while the situation does look hopeless, we can make it a hopeful one by being prepared — knowing about the problem, planning ahead on how we would deal with situations like tonnes of dead bodies and patients needing medical aid, etc etc.

I seem be reading/ talking about bird flu all the way since yesterday. My mom warned me yesterday afternoon to refrain from eating chicken. Seems a couple of our family friends have stopped having chicken dishes coz of bird flu, and she was telling me too to do the same. So as I do when I am confronted with something I don’t have much info on, I did a search on Google and read some pages on bird flu. And now I am more knowledgeable about it.

WHO Fact Sheet: for a comprehensive info on what bird flu is all about.

Of the 15 avian influenza virus subtypes, H5N1 is of particular concern for several reasons. H5N1 mutates rapidly and has a documented propensity to acquire genes from viruses infecting other animal species. Its ability to cause severe disease in humans has now been documented on two occasions. In addition, laboratory studies have demonstrated that isolates from this virus have a high pathogenicity and can cause severe disease in humans. Birds that survive infection excrete virus for at least 10 days, orally and in faeces, thus facilitating further spread at live poultry markets and by migratory birds.

The epidemic of highly pathogenic avian influenza caused by H5N1, which began in mid-December 2003 in the Republic of Korea and is now being seen in other Asian countries, is therefore of particular public health concern. H5N1 variants demonstrated a capacity to directly infect humans in 1997, and have done so again in Viet Nam in January 2004. The spread of infection in birds increases the opportunities for direct infection of humans. If more humans become infected over time, the likelihood also increases that humans, if concurrently infected with human and avian influenza strains, could serve as the “mixing vessel” for the emergence of a novel subtype with sufficient human genes to be easily transmitted from person to person. Such an event would mark the start of an influenza pandemic.

Based on historical patterns, influenza pandemics can be expected to occur, on average, three to four times each century when new virus subtypes emerge and are readily transmitted from person to person. However, the occurrence of influenza pandemics is unpredictable. In the 20th century, the great influenza pandemic of 1918–1919, which caused an estimated 40 to 50 million deaths worldwide, was followed by pandemics in 1957–1958 and 1968–1969.

Experts agree that another influenza pandemic is inevitable and possibly imminent.

MSNBC.com readers ask about bird flu. Turns out eating chicken doesn’t spead bird flu — or atleast there haven’t been any reported cases of that so far.

Some more questions and answers on bird flu.

And … (I like this one coz I am hand-washing obsessed) the best defense against bird flu is to regularly wash your hand and have a good personal hygiene. :) 

I wonder what’s going to happen … 

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