Thursday, May 25, 2006

Human To Human To Human?

The cluster outbreak of bird flu in Indonesia has the World Health Organization worried.

Mr Cordingley said that the Sumatran cases presented a major puzzle, as they were the largest cluster of human cases to date.

"[This] is probably the most worrying incident so far since bird flu started nearly three years ago and we can't find any obvious source of infection. We can find no sign of infected chickens; no sign of the virus in the environment around where they live," he said.

All seven people who died were members of the same family. An eighth family member is also thought to have the disease.


While testing appears to indicate that the virus has not mutated, this case is a cause for concern. The is very good reason to suspect that the virus not only was transmitted from the initial sick family member to some in their family, but that one of those who got sick, then infected another, Human to Human to Human transmission.

For a virus that has been very reluctant to transmit human to human this series of events is unexpected and a warning. Even without mutation, there is a real potential for this to spread in a human population.

One other detail of note, the mortality of the virus is still very high, with seven of the eight infected members of this family dying. Lets hope that if it does appear in the US and it does mutate into a more easily transmitted virus, our government is able to respond effectively.

because, we will need them to.


UPDATE

The Indonesia cluster does seem to have the WHO very concerned, they are talking about raising the global alert level.

If the global alert status were increased, international stockpiles of antiviral drugs would probably be shipped to Indonesia and travel from the country would be monitored in an attempt to contain the outbreak.





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6 comments:

Lynne said...

"Lets hope that if it does appear in the US and it does mutate into a more easily transmitted virus, our government is able to respond effectively."

Our government? Are you serious?

John said...

I know.... we are screwed.

romunov said...

Me thinks people are blowing this one out of all proportions.

If people were serious about containing the damn thing, they would stop traveling.

John said...

Right now, the primary means of movement of the virus is via migratory wild birds.

And as long as the virus doesn't evolve, it is an economic, not a public health issue.

In fact, the odds are it will not become a pandemic threat, but if it does, with the mortality it is presenting it would be a plague like disaster.

At that point, people would stop traveling.

As long as it is still in it's current form, we have to watch it, we have to be aware, but it will not stop our lifes.

romunov said...

Luckily, birds migrate S-N. I think that 8 related people is still statistically insignificant to draw any conclusions. I would like to see the test results interpreted, though.

romunov said...

p.s.

Here is a link to the news story where they reported that there isn't enough evidence about h-h transmission.