With all the hype over bird flu, I wonder about the truth, and the basics we should be aware of, in case of an outburst. With the World Health Organization projecting that 2 to 7 million people could die in a flu pandemic; how much should we be worried?
The problem—all this is based on projections of a potential pandemic. As of now, there are reported cases of the bird flu virus making the leap from birds to humans, but still lacking the capability to spread from human to human. When the virus can figure out how to spread from human to human, is a game of numbers and time, kind of like, how long it will take infinite monkeys on infinite typewriters to produce a perfect copy of Hamlet.
The attack rate of the 1918 flu was very high, and a large part of the population became infected and many millions died. However, a majority of infected persons recovered from influenza and were immune to the virus. The virus was spread from person to person and could only infect susceptible people. Over time, the number of susceptible in the population decreasedÃ¢â‚¬â€?referred to as “herd immunity”Ã¢â‚¬â€?and the epidemic ended. The virus continued to infect people in annual seasonal epidemics until 1957.
Are we putting too much focus on this, when there could be a million other bugs and viruses scheming up something else for us? This is what Dr. Kanta Subbarao had to say when asked, Ã¢â‚¬Å“what is the most serious health threat our planet faces heading into the future?Ã¢â‚¬Â?
The short-term health threats are infectious diseases that have been with us for a long time but are not well-controlled, such as malaria and tuberculosis, as well as other diseases that are new and unpredictable, such as those that are transmitted from animal species, including influenza. The longer-term health threats are cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Linked to: Those Bastards!