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It's a humongous threat.
What are your countries doing to prepare?
Here in the U.S. we are preparing to get caught with our pants down! ( and not for an innoculation! )
Our government seems to have taken the stance that, "We will trust that European countries will handle the situation effectively enough to prevent spreading it overseas!"
And we have stockpiled very little in the way of vaccinations.
Last edited by Joker; October 13th, 2005 at 17:23.
You know, just moments ago, I read an AP article about a girl with a drug-resistant strain of the avian flu. And it's scary. Our president is certainly pushing for drug companies to stockpile flu innoculations, but we all know the trouble with that. Drug-makers design their innoculations on educated guesses. "Last year we saw this. Based on that and these other factors, this particular combination is the most likely to work."
Contrary to the panic, I hear reports that the threat is exaggerated, that there are no reports of transmission from one human to another. That as yet undisputed fact comforts me but little because so many human diseases began in domesticated livestock.
So I'm cautious. I'm unwilling to jump on the bandwagon and prematurely fear avian flu (though being a teacher I'm in contact with the major vector for good old-fashioned influenza and get a shot each year, except last one--remember the shortage?), but I'm also wary of just shrugging my shoulders and walking away from the possibility.
Apparently the worry is that someone who is already suffering from a conventional flu strain (the current UK free flu innoculation provides protection against the four strains expected this winter - but not Avian strain) MIGHT also catch Avian flu at the same time. The mix of the two flu virii in the same victim MIGHT provide the ideal mixing container where the Avian version 'learns' how to transfer from human to human from the conventional flu strain.
The 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic seems to have started in the poultry/pig farms associated with the massive supply system for the trenches of World War One. I read some time ago that the species transmission route from bird to man is pretty unlikely - but that the transmission route from bird to pig is fairly easy, and then the transmission route from pig to human is also fairly straightforwards.
This may be why avian flu keeps breaking out among humans in South East Asia, as humans, birds and pigs live in close proximity - in the same way as many troops did in the trenches of WWI.
Anyway, over the next few days I will certainly be investigating all aspects of any potential flu outbreak in the UK, so I will keep you informed.
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I, for one, am not worried at all. The worst case of flu I have ever had was when I first went to school and got my full battery of innoculations. Since then, I have declined, avoided, and flat out refused to get a flu vaccination. In the 10 years since then, I've had the flu once (about 2 years ago, the last time I actually took a sick day for being sick :rolleyes:...yeah, I play hooky now and then). A rather nasty strain that lasted 48 hours. It shot through my department at work twice before I caught it, and once I had it, I was done with it in about 12 hours.
So far as the U.S. government goes towards getting ready for this, I really think that they should stockpile based on census populations for elderly, children, and the infirm. Midranged adults (18-40 who have no history of major medical problems) should not be allowed to get vaccinations until the ones who would suffer most from the disease have been vaccinated. I really think that news outlets and governments go overboard with reports of outbreaks. People panic and clamour for medicine to prevent what a decent diet and healthy lifestyle would prevent for them anyway.
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Indeed I very rarely post in the enhanced forums as I spent so much time debating such things with my friends of various fields, but this is a matter I find of interest and quite close to my current subject. So I'll quickly chirp in and add to Hard Aun's statement (which was quite true).
Basically, those who state that 'Bird Flu' crossing the species barrier is merely a matter of time are not being alarmist, they are being factually correct. Most people know that the reason we are unable to defeat many viral diseases is because of their rapid rates of mutation, the surface protein coat on the virus changes so fast that that any specific anti-body we raise against them is quickly rendered nullified by a new strain. This is why common influenza returns every winter in a new guise, and why we are unable to beat HIV.
Ordinarily this isn't such big news considering the capabilities of the human immune system, but these particular strains of virus are extraordinarily powerful. The 1918 Spanish Influenza outbreak killed more people than World War One. In America the average life span decreased by 10 years, the mortality rate was roughly 3%. This doesn't sound a lot, but consider other Flu strains have a mortality rate approaching 0.1%. Another piece to the puzzle is the high infection rates from such an airborne disease, after all who hasn't had flu at some point? The 1918 pandemic circled the globe, the problems of one exposed person coughing in a lift or on a plane hold a nightmare for anyone trying to contain the disease. The final piece of the jigsaw was the strange 'targeting' of the disease. Basically it killed the wrong people for a bug, most flu epidemics kill the old, the infirm or already ill. Spanish Flu killed the mainly the young, the healthy; those you'd normally expect to survive.
Now before I get some replies accusing me of being an alarmist, I'm not recommending everyone panic and saying 'we are all doomed', just it irritates me when people say (and have said) that Avian Flu is a whole worry over nothing. We are a long way from any such outbreak - BUT the signs are worrying. Science has conclusively linked Spanish Flu to H5N1 (the Avian Flu virus). Analysis of the two from bodies has shown similiarities (but marked differences) between the two. Avian Flu however is lethal in chickens already, and can rarely infect humans (with a similiar high rate of lethality). The H5N1 virus however lacks the necessary adaptations to pass from human to human - the point of which adaptation is the point that it becomes a problem to us. The most notable adapation is the gene for a protein 'PB2'. PB2 is a protein mainly linked determining the species specificity of the virus. The current virus version of PB2 allows transmission to birds. An experimental change 'in the lab' of PB2 made the virus lethal to mice (and so mammals...). This super mutated influenza virus that humans have no immunity to is currently stored in a midwest American university laboratory by the way . What scientists are watching and waiting for is a change in PB2, and selective pressues and mutation rates being such on the virus means that a mutant PB2 will probably crop up from time to time.
Anyway, your question was of containment? What am I leading upto? Basically I'm not scaremongering here, an Avian Flu pandemic would not be like the film 'Outbreak'. But whatever containment procedures you put in place, combined with natural and artificial immunities, they would only serve to lessen the effects of any pandemic. If an outbreak were to occur, it's highly probably a lot of people would still die.
If your not aware of the history of Spanish Influenza (or want to pull me up on anything), I'd suggest you have a good read of this and this. I'd particularly suggest those who have had flu and assume Avian flu is nothing have a read.
Last edited by Addoran; October 15th, 2005 at 00:47.
In Australia, our Government just won't let in any poultry that are suspected/from areas that are suspected to have bird flu. Its worked so far.... *crosses fingers*
I for one, am terrified of the whole thing, but basically, I just keep it controlled, since panic accomplishes nothing. Point is, I'm terrified of death, so take this post from that perspective. Also take it from the perspective of someone who knows far less scientific terminology than Addoran...
So the question for those of you out there who are knowledgable on the subject is...
How long in the expert's oppinion can we expect for it to take, before it mutates to be able to jump human to human?
Could sufficient quantites of Tamiflu or other such medicines which lessen symtoms be used on a large scale, to prevent large-scale death?
Anyway, I'm not as knowledgable as I could be, and I figure I'm probably more scared than I should be.
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Wmap, I am not a doctor, but, I do have some medical knowledge. I think that anyone who puts a timeline on when this will happen is guessing, at best. They may be educated guesses, but, still guesses. What they are talking about is the virus mutating, and that is a random occurence.
As to dealing with it, I was living in Toronto during SARS and it is, potentially, a more dangerous virus that the avian flu, (due to transmittability, not the lethality of the virus, that I don't know). What they did here, was, you get the symtpoms, you go to hospital, no questions, you argue, the police show up. I believe that if the symptoms are contained, you should be fine, for an average healthy adult.
I don't have a real fear of the Avian Flu, more of a concerned caution.
Oh, yeah. You wanna know how not to catch it, keep your hands clean. Regular hand washing, with sanitiser, cuts down on viral infection rate by some huge number, (around %70, I think).
Last edited by THE Hersh; October 17th, 2005 at 16:32. Reason: spelling
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The thing is LY that the aussie goverment can't stop migrating birds coming into the country. As far as I am aware, that is one of the big worries in the UK, now that the avain flu has been identified on the european mainland (Romania).Originally Posted by Lord Yossanrion
I agree with the other poster though, that it is a big worry. But the fact is that the virus at the moment is based only in birds or people who have eaten the sick birds. As much as people say that the virsus might mutate to transfer from person to person, it might just as likely not mutate in that direction at all. The virsus coat will mutate only if there is a selective pressure for it to do so.
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