Avian Flu Threat Exaggerated

Disconcerting headlines about avian influenza has caused widespread concern. Warnings have been issued to brace for an onslaught of a pandemic that could paralyze and decimate entire nations. Countries that showed cases of avian flu were scrutinized closely. Travel stopped to areas where poultry was affected. Despite reassurance to the consumer, buyers felt unsure about choosing chicken for dinner. It has been stated before, that at this point the virus of the avian flu has not made a mutation, and it is not passed from human to human. It can be transmitted from diseased fowl to human who are in close contact with the diseased animal.
The word pandemic seems to trigger a response of fear, but it has to be mentioned that a pandemic is not new. It is universally accepted that there have been 3 pandemics in the 20-th century. Pandemics are defined by an increased number of influenza deaths. One influenza wave hit in 1968, prior to this the year 1957 showed a similar picture. Pandemics are not all equal. The outbreak of influenza in 1918/19 was severe, and young and old were affected alike. Death was in many cases due to the primary viral infection.
In the meantime flu preparedness is much more common than in previous years. Flu shots are available, antibiotics can help treat secondary infection, laboratories are working on vaccines for new influenza strains, and lately antiviral medications have come into the picture.
While the work of scientists is invaluable, in some cases the statements are too simplistic. The avian flu virus H5N1 could mutate. Looking at the facts, the virus has been around since 1997, and it has not mutated. Reporters write stories about possible future pandemics, and there is worry in the population. They need to know the truth! The truth is that we should plan. The truth is also, that a pandemic is not more imminent today than it has been since 1918. In fact it is not more imminent than a multitude of other emergencies. The outbreak of SARS has shown that it is the front-line public health and hospital staff that handles the virus most of all. The production of vaccines and a strong vaccination program is being worked on. This does not leave the rest of the population with nothing what they can do.

Avian Flu Threat Exaggerated

Avian Flu Threat Exaggerated

Good hygienic measures have to be followed. The most important one (and often neglected one) is hand washing. It does not stop a pandemic like the one in 1918/19, but it certainly makes a difference to annual influenza rates. The annual vaccination against influenza is a highly effective weapon against the influenza outbreak that happens every year, and improved vaccines will make a difference between wellness and the opposite!

More information about:

The flu: http://nethealthbook.com/infectious-disease/respiratory-infections/flu/

The swine flu: http://nethealthbook.com/infectious-disease/respiratory-infections/swine-flu/

Reference: The Medical Post, June 20, 2006, page 47

Last edited Nov. 1, 2014


Avian Flu Needs Preparedness Instead Of Panic

Nobody can predict when the next pandemic will hit and whether it will be from an avian flu, but Canada and other countries are not taking any chances. The feds have commissioned a mock vaccine that can be adapted to whatever strain comes along. The Canadian Public Health Agency is also calling for alertness to patients coming back from countries where avian flu has occurred, especially countries with human cases. Canada is erring on the side of caution when it comes to the national flu pandemic preparedness plan. There is preparation for up to 138,000 people in need for hospitalization and between 11,000 and 58,000 death could occur. The economic impact is estimated between $ 10 and 24 billion.
It is true that public health agencies are worried, as three conditions for a possible pandemic are present: the viral strain is a new one, humans have no immunity to this new virus, and the strain is virulent.
The fourth condition would be that the strain could be spread from person to person. However this condition has not developed at this point.
A lot of hype has gone through the press, misinformation is rampant, and as a result people are mixing up influenza preparedness with an avian flu pandemic. Anxiety runs high in the population. Some health professionals are already suffering from pandemic burnout before the virus has even landed, which is not a surprise: in the last few years warnings were sounded due to the outbreak of SARS. West Nile, Ebola, and Lassa fever have been other diseases that caused concern and anxiety. Before jumping to frightening conclusions that the avian flu will jump from person to person, it is important to see the facts in perspective. H5N1 at this point is not spread from person to person. The virus is transmitted from affected birds (chicken ducks, and other fowl) to humans, who have to be in close contact with the animal. The virus is found deep in the lungs of the infected person, and as a result it is more difficult to transmit than a virus that is found in mouth, nose or throat.
Human fatalities have occurred in Asia and the Middle East. Vietnam has had the highest number of deaths related to H5N1: 93 infections, 42 fatalities. Turkey has had 12 documented cases, four of them fatal.
In the meantime the world is not defenseless. Vaccines are in preparation, and vaccination trials are have been introduced in Vietnam. Work with horse antibodies is ongoing and the results are encouraging. Researchers in China developed a passive immunization by using horse antibodies. The advantage is the fact, that larger amounts of vaccine can be produced faster than with the culturing of the virus on eggs.

Avian Flu Needs Preparedness Instead Of Panic

Avian Flu Needs Preparedness Instead Of Panic

Public health agencies and health professionals are aware of the fact that pandemics have been around in the past. They are still a threat now. They agree that programs have to be in place to help mitigate the impact by doing the best they can. Disaster preparedness and alertness are definitely in order. Panic is not.

More information about other flus:

1. the Flu (influenza, H3N2): http://nethealthbook.com/infectious-disease/respiratory-infections/flu/

2. Swine flu (H1N1): http://nethealthbook.com/infectious-disease/respiratory-infections/swine-flu/

3. Bird Flu (H5N1): https://www.askdrray.com/worldwide-alert-for-avian-influenza-bird-flu/

Reference: National Review Of Medicine, March 30, 2006, page 5.

Last edited Oct. 31, 2014