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April 6, 2005

Size of Asian Bird Flu Outbreak Unprecedented: And Now The Perfect Storm(of viruses)?[Updated]

Topics: Health Issues

I have written much on the subject of avian influenza, and have repeatedly warned, beginning back in December 2004, that a serious pandemic could be in the making with the Asian outbreaks of the H5N1  virus. International public health organizations are saying that the outbreak of bird flu in eight Asian nations is the most widespread and serious occurrence of the disease that was once thought to be rare. So far, the H5N1 avian influenza strain has struck widely in at least eight Asians nations since December 2003, with most of the countries involved seeing the infectious and deadly disease in poultry flocks for the first time.

Thus far, 100 million birds have either died from bird flu or been killed in efforts to contain the virus. But could the H5N1 problem be just the begining of an even more serious threat, a "perfect storm" of influenza outbreaks? Now U.N. health officials are reported to be concerned that two strains of bird flu in Asia, the H5N1 and the H7, may combine to create a highly lethal and easily transmissible virus(H7 human cases have previously been reported in the U.S.), prompting  widespread fears that the disease could cause the next human pandemic. According to William L. Aldis, the World Health Organization's representative in Thailand, if H7 and H5N1 came into contact and exchanged genetic material, it could create an "organism with H5 lethality and H7 transmissibility."

So in addition to a tsunami of influenza we could be facing a combination of the lethality of the  H5N1 strain with the ease-of-transmission of the H7 strain - a "perfect storm" of lethal influenza that is easily transmitted among humans.

hat tip - Roth Report

Update: Investment banks are starting to issue warnings on the risks avian influenza poses to the economies and financial markets of East Asia, as health experts struggle to assess whether the disease has the potential to cause a pandemic at all.

Posted by Hyscience at April 6, 2005 1:29 PM

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