Avian Influenza

Published on Author harbaugh

In recent days, a lot of publicity has been focused around the emergence of a new flu in China. The World Health Organization just confirmed that there have been five deaths in China from a new bird flu virus. There have been 11 laboratory-confirmed cases of the H7N9 virus and it has yet to be seen before in humans. According to WHO there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission of the virus. However, the government is being cautious and the roughly 400 people that have been in contact with the 11 cases are being closely monitored. Currently, WHO is not recommending any trade or travel restrictions. However, the flu is only of recent development and it is certainly possible that restrictions will be in place in the future. According to Dr. Masato Tashniro, director of WHO’s influenza research in Toyko, “The tentative assessment of this virus is that it may cause human infection or epidemic.”  Therefore, this recent outbreak has potential significant health and economic concerns and must be monitored closely. Source: BBC Source: Guardian


3 Responses to Avian Influenza

  1. It will definitely be something to look out for in the coming days, weeks, and months. China (and the world) is becoming so globalized that it isn’t far fetched to say that one of these days a flu like that will spread rapidly across the world and cause an epidemic.

  2. I agree that it will be interesting to see how this develops in the coming weeks and months, especially if the problem gets serious enough that the World Health Organization deems it necessary to take measures to keep it from spreading. We would definitely want to avoid another SARS-like panic worldwide. Given the current globalized economy and the growing strength of flu viruses, should any virus cause an epidemic, the extent to which the WHO may have to sequester a country economically may prove extreme. What type of restrictions does the WHO implement to protect countries?

  3. In the background is the SARS epidemic – which was controlled – and in the distant background the 1918 flu pandemic. Now there are cases of avian flu all the time, but most aren’t detected. Birds carry all sorts of different strains (a brother did a masters thesis thereon, it allowed him to duck hunt back in the days when pollution in the US had decimated migratory bird populations and hunting had been banned). One fear of course is that some exhibit high morbidity or even mortality; the other is that new strains won’t be incorporated into the mix of current flu vaccines and thus has the potential for turning into an epidemic. Even “not very severe” strains kill a lot of people, among the aged and the very young (especially in countries where bad water or pervasive malaria mean lots of children are in poor health at any given time).

    The other thing in the background is to remember that people don’t understand epidemiology, and can (do) panic [which by definition means an unreasoned reaction].