Saturday, January 26, 2008

India worst bird flu outbreak spreads


Click for larger...yawn.

So far so good, but if H5N1 reaches a city of 13.2 million people, it could be the start of the pandemic many fear is imminent.

When H5N1 is limited to rural areas with few people and ones who can't afford to travel far, its controllable, but a city with 13.2 million residents has to include people who can afford to travel and airline flights can allow them to spread the disease very far, quickly.

The infected people were infected by birds. You know birds, right? Those things that fly, like, sometimes thousands of miles when migrating.

So far humans have been lucky. H5N1 doesn't seem to spread between humans, but it's very possible it will.
“Human influenza virus” usually refers to those subtypes that spread widely among humans. There are only three known A subtypes of influenza viruses (H1N1, H1N2, and H3N2) currently circulating among humans. It is likely that some genetic parts of current human influenza A viruses came from birds originally. Influenza A viruses are constantly changing, and they might adapt over time to infect and spread among humans [emphasis mine].

...

No one can predict when a pandemic might occur. However, experts from around the world are watching the H5N1 situation in Asia and Europe very closely and are preparing for the possibility that the virus may begin to spread more easily and widely from person to person.

Should this be of concern to you? You bet your sweet ass it should.

Sorry if I sound alarmist and scared you. Usually I scare intentionally.

I'll stop my diatribe with some good news/bad news. Even if you get hold of poultry carrying H5N1, you can eat it if cooked properly. However, handling the poultry can pass the influenza on to you.
India's worst outbreak of bird flu spread as health authorities battled on Friday to stop it reaching the densely populated city of Kolkata amid heavy rain that hampered culling efforts.

Authorities reported the disease had affected two more districts, bringing the number hit by avian flu to 12 out of West Bengal state's total of 19.

Howra, one of the new districts reporting the disease, neighbours Kolkata. The other district was Purulia on the border with the eastern state of Bihar.

"We're afraid bird flu may spread to many areas -- it has already spread to two more districts," said state animal resources minister Anisur Rahaman in Kolkata, which has 13.2 million people, many of whom live in congested slums.

"We've yet to be able to control this disease," he told AFP, adding new outbreaks were being reported in districts affected earlier.

The disease has spread to more than half of West Bengal state since the deadly H5N1 strain was first confirmed in dead chickens more than a week ago.

"The government has banned the smuggling of chicken to city markets from affected areas," Rahaman said. "All we can do is keep a watch on the markets."

Via AFP.

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