Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Possible Flu Pandemic?

The H5N1 Flu virus may have made the jump to human to human transmission. Acording to a AFP story on the Australian Broadcasting Company web sit, a nurse who was tending a 21 year old flu patent has contracted the virus. The grandfather of the male patent has also tested positive for the virus as has his sister, but it is possible that they got it directly from sick poultry. The nurse is a more worrisome development. As a gage of how serious this version of the flu is, the 21 year old has been in critical condition for two weeks. The Flu virus is, in general, no joke. The worst out brake of flu (the H1N1 or Spanish Flu) in 1918,1919,&1920 was the worst pandemic in human history. During the height of that episode, more people died of the flu in 24 weeks than have died in the 24 years of the AIDS epidemic. People who woke apparently healthy developed symptoms and died with in 12 hours. All told the H1N1 flu killed 50 to 100 million people. What is especially worrisome is that the 21 year old seems to have the worst case. Usually the flu hits the very old and very young hardest. One of the unique features of the H1N1 flu was that it killed predominantly those in the prime of life.
The Center for Desease Control fact sheet on the H5N1 flu was updated today it reads in part “The H5N1 virus does not usually infect humans. In 1997, however, the first case of spread from a bird to a human was seen during an outbreak of bird flu in poultry in Hong Kong. The virus caused severe respiratory illness in 18 people, 6 of whom died. Since that time, there have been other cases of H5N1 infection among humans. Most recently, human cases of H5N1 infection have occurred in Thailand and Vietnam during large H5N1 outbreaks in poultry. The death rate for these reported cases has been about 70 percent. Most of these cases occurred from contact with infected poultry or contaminated surfaces; however, it is thought that a few cases of human-to-human spread of H5N1 have occurred.” A CBC article is here.

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