Theres a lot to learn about this topic: so many angles you can take, so many different opinions. To get a complete picture, read this article. Youll discover that theres more to this topic than meets the eye. Read on, and let yourself be surprised!
Bird Flu Fears
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|Carole Nickerson, GlobalBirdFlu.com|
Interesting, isn't it? In the rest of this article, you'll discover even more insider stuff about the topic - and it is simple and easy to follow. Remember the good old days when a cold consisted of a runny nose, stuffed up sinuses, and a few aches & pains?
Or how about the flu? I remember as a kid, the worst horror story I ever heard of was someone having a week of diarrhea & vomiting. That was scary stuff, and not even so much in the fact that you would feel downright rotten, but the embarassment of it all.
Times have changed....
It seems every year you hear about some crazy new viral mutation or "superbug" sweeping into the population, ready and willing to not just make us sick, but to outright kill us.
Infectious diseases have always been a threat to mankind. In the past 10 years we have seen many new & reemerging diseases come to the surface - SARS, Monkeypox, Malaria, Tuberculosis, West Nile Virus, and the most popular of our time - HIV/AIDS. A report from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases published a 10-year perspective where it showed that nearly 25% of all worldwide deaths are caused by infectious & parasitic diseases. That's about 15 million out of some 57 million annual deaths.
In comes "Bird Flu"......
Technically known as "avian influenza" H5N1, it is the latest infectious threat on the scene, making headlines around the world - and for good reason. There have been reports that it could kill anywhere between 50% - 90% of those infected. It's important to remember that opinions & theories are going to vary because there just isn't enough data to work with in establishing a true perspective on what h5N1 could do. We do know that out of 117 reported human cases, 60 were fatal. That is indeed a scary number.
There is a lot of controversy over the numbers though. Some scientists claim the threat of bird flu is much lower, while others predict a global outbreak in the very near future that could kill millions. It appears to be yet another issue where the "experts" can only guess.
People become infected when they come into contact with infected poultry and poultry feces, usually during the process of slaughtering and preparing meat. The World Health Organization reports though that this does not occur in everyone exposed though. For many years it has essentially been a disease affecting birds, but over time managed to cross over into a threat to humans.
So why the worry?
What worries scientists is that if given the right conditions, the H5N1 virus could mutate into a new form which would allow human-to-human infection, sparking a global pandemic. There has been at least one reported case of human-to-human infection in Thailand already, so the question now is not "if", but "when" it will occur. H5N1 is now firmly established in large parts of Asia, with each human infection giving the virus more opportunity to adapt and mutate. Based on it's history, makeup and what we've learned from it's cousins & past pandemics, it's ability & likelihood of mutating is very high, making the risk for a global pandemic a very real possibility.
Don't they have anything to treat this?
Unfortunately, there is no commercially available product which can prevent H5N1 infection in humans. It is under development in several countries, but no vaccines are expected to be available for several months until after the onset of a pandemic. The problem is that they can only guess as to what the virus will look & behave like in a mutated form. It's like trying to figure out what a 2 month old child will look like when they are 20 and buying the clothes long before you even know if they'll fit.
Most recently, a drug called Tamiflu was being stockpiled by some countries to combat H5N1, but there are reports that it may not be very effective at all. Tamiflu was really designed for your "average joe" flu that we all have has at some point. In higher doses, it may work to some degree. Then again, it might not. We just don't know that yet. As with everything - there is controversy, mixed messages & conflicting expert opinions. There have been a number of other vaccines (old & new) being discussed in the news recently. To keep up on the vaccine situation, it probably best to keep your eye on the WHO website at: http://www.wpro.who.int/health_topics/avian_influenza/
If there is one thing everyone can agree on is that the world is not prepared. WHO has urged all countries to establish preparedness plans, but only around 40 have done so and most developing countries simply don't have the resources to prepare themselves and even fewer have access to vaccines.
How ironic that "chicken soup" has been the choice for curing colds and flus for so many generations.
About the Author
Carole Nickerson is a writer & web developer who has been writing on various topics of interest since 1998. To read more on the avian bird flu topic, visit GlobalBirdFlu.com Keywords: Bird flu, avian bird flu, asian bird flu, pandemic, bird flu pandemic, birdflu