Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Bird Flu - H5 virus unlikely to cause a pandemic.

The number of people worldwide who have died from bird flu is around 100 according to the World Health Organization (March 2006). These people were in very close contact with birds.

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In Europe 69,000 people died from TB in 2004.

Someone in the world is newly infected with TB bacilli every second.

Overall, one-third of the world's population is currently infected with the TB bacillus.

It is estimated that 1.7 million deaths resulted from TB in 2004.

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Two groups of scientists, in Japan and in Holland, have come up with explanations as to why human to human transmission of the H5N1 virus is highly unlikely.

Unlike other known flu viruses which can be easily transmitted between people, the H5N1 virus cannot spread through coughs or sneezes.

Previous pandemics have been caused by H1 type viruses (the 1918 pandemic), H2 (the 1957 Asian) or H3 (the Hong Kong flu of 1968).

The H5 virus has been present in the human population since the late 1950's, but has never had the full set of mutations needed to set off a pandemic.

Peter Palese, a virologist at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, declared H5 infects people only when they are exposed to very large doses, for example when they sleep with chickens in the same room. "I feel strongly that H5 has been around in humans for a long time and never caused a pandemic," suggesting that this is not the virus which is likely to be the next pandemic.

Source: http://news.softpedia.com/news/Human-to-Human-Transmission-of-Bird-Flu-Not-Likely-20144.shtml

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Bird flu has been affecting the world for many years.

Bird flus have been troublesome for agriculture at least since 1878, when Italian poultry were hit with a disease labeled fowl plague.
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/10/17/MNGRHF9FID1.DTL

Each year, for many decades, a relatively small number of people have caught bird flu from birds.

In 1995 Mexico stopped an outbreak of severe H5N2 flu. In 2002 Italy became the first country to eradicate bird flu using a marker vaccine and regular testing. http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn4810

Why is bird flu getting a lot of publicity in the media?

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,9068-1833185,00.html

Widespread fears of a bird flu pandemic have helped spark a sales surge at Swiss drugs group Roche, which makes Tamiflu.

Roche, which is the world's only manufacturer of Tamiflu, revealed this morning that group sales had surged to more than £11.1 billion in the third quarter, driven by "significant growth" in sales of the drug.

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The UK Government spent 32 million pounds buying smallpox vaccine from a firm whose boss was Paul Drayson.Paul Drayson, had donated 50,000 pounds to the Labour Party just weeks before the contract was finalised.


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