They will help you save hours of frustrating, wasted searching, and let you zero in on the best material on this subject - like this article you're reading. Go on... Although the earliest occurrences of avian influenza date back to 1997, when an outbreak in Hong Kong was swiftly dealt with and managed to be contained after causing 6 human deaths, it is the disease's most recent history, from late 2003 onwards, that is seen as a very worrying sign for the situation's future development. After only random cases between 1997 and 2003, Hong Kong and China reported various cases that signalled the start of a rapid spread of the virus across Asia. A couple of years later and the question is still being asked: is avian influenza a real threat to world health or will this become just another 'has been' news story? The SARS disease was another killer thought to have the potential to evolve and cause major social disruption. However, it was eventually contained and other headlines have taken its place.
If we are to believe international experts such as the World Health Organization officials, we are not far away from a flu pandemic. But this warning exists for a while now and apart from millions of birds being killed in Asia and some regular human victims every once in a while, the great 'plague' is yet to come. The issue is still an avian one, as birds are the virus' natural host. However the fear is that a possible mutation of such a virus strain could cause it to easily spread between humans. There are suspicions that this has already taken place in the case of an Indonesian family that was decimated by the virus. Therefore, international authorities show concerns over the inability of some countries to contain the outbreaks of the disease among their poultry population. This is the case with Asian countries, a continent where the illness has caused the death of tens of millions of birds. Culling of birds in an infected region is seen as the most effective way of preventing the spread.
Based on estimates that say that hundreds of millions of people could succumb to the avian flu disease in the case of a world wide flu epidemic, governments are racing to prepare for such an event. Plans are put together, surveillance programs are trying to detect the earliest signs of a possible bird flu infection in either wild or domestic birds and flu drugs are being stockpiled as the only way to treat patients. Although an effective and proven vaccine for the illness is yet to be found, several publicly funded or independent companies are doing research into the virus and how it can be stopped. Periodically, autumn and winter is seen as a perfect season for the disease to evolve into a world killer. Migratory birds are the most common source for the virus and starting September, their migration is thought to have the potential of taking the viral agent to new territories.
If we are to look on the other side, there are plenty of opponents to the bird flu fears. Not just people who look to the issue with disbelief, but strong supporters of a conspiracy theory. People such as Dr. Stephan Lanka, a German biologist who is disputing basic generally agreed facts such as the existence of viruses itself. It is in the end a matter of personal opinion how one takes to the matter. But with strong warnings that this is not something to joke around with, on one hand, and constant reassurances that the virus has some way to go before reaching its deadly arm into the Western hemisphere, it seems one could turn their attention to more stringent matters.
About the Author :
George Velicu is the senior editor at Bird">www.bir-flu-center.com">Bird Flu Center and the man responsible for making the website one of the most comprehensive sources for avian influenza information on the internet. He is also the one keeping a daily record of bird flu's developments.
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