Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Bird Flu's Spread Across The Planet

A short, but comprehensive summary from Reuters on the spread of the avaian influenza virus around the world. The report makes clear that the spread of bird flu and the human toll is increasing, not decreasing.

Some excerpts :
The outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza began in Asia in 2003 and has spread rapidly over the past year.

Since the virus re-emerged in Asia in 2003, outbreaks have been confirmed in around 50 countries and territories....

More than 30 countries have reported outbreaks in the past year, in most cases involving wild birds such as swans.

The virus has killed 167 people since 2003, according to WHO. Countries with confirmed human deaths are: Azerbaijan, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Nigeria, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam.

In total, the virus is known to have infected 273 people since 2003, according to WHO. Many of those who have died are children and young adults.

Vietnam and Indonesia have the highest number of cases, accounting for 105 of the total deaths.

The H5N1 virus is not new to science and was responsible for an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Scotland in 1959.

H5N1 is not the only bird flu virus. There are numerous strains. For example, an outbreak in 2003 of the H7N7 bird flu virus in the Netherlands led to the destruction of more than 30 million birds, around a third of the country's poultry stock. About 2.7 million were destroyed in Belgium and around 400,000 in Germany. In the Netherlands, 89 people were infected with the H7N7 virus, of whom one (a veterinarian) died.

The H5N1 virus made the first known jump into humans in Hong Kong in 1997, infecting 18 people and killing six of them. The government ordered the immediate culling of the territory's entire poultry flock, ending the outbreak.

Symptoms of bird flu in humans have ranged from typical influenza-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, sore throat and muscle aches, to eye inflammations (conjunctivitis), pneumonia, acute respiratory distress, viral pneumonia, and other severe and life-threatening complications

Go Here To Read The Full Story

No comments: