Sunday, January 22, 2006

Yikes An Infectious Pandemic!

Tonight we went to my parents for dinner and my Mom informed us that the previous night they were at a family friends house who just happens to be one of Canada's leading doctors specializing in rare infectious diseases. My Mother said he feels that in the next 5 years there's an 80% chance that a virus will mutate and be transferable from person to person instead of bird to person. Obviously the details are a million times more complicated than I understand but I think it's worth reading more about if someone who specializes in that field feels their is an 80% chance it will happen.

Ten things you need to know about pandemic influenza

Here's the first.

1. Pandemic influenza is different from avian influenza.
Avian influenza refers to a large group of different influenza viruses that primarily affect birds. On rare occasions, these bird viruses can infect other species, including pigs and humans. The vast majority of avian influenza viruses do not infect humans. An influenza pandemic happens when a new subtype emerges that has not previously circulated in humans.
For this reason, avian H5N1 is a strain with pandemic potential, since it might ultimately adapt into a strain that is contagious among humans. Once this adaptation occurs, it will no longer be a bird virus--it will be a human influenza virus. Influenza pandemics are caused by new influenza viruses that have adapted to humans.

Another article:

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