Wednesday, June 13, 2007

30 Countries Reported Bird Flu Outbreaks In Past Twelve Months

The Facts And Figures Of Bird Flu

Reuters has run a short, but comprehensive summary of bird flu related facts and figures, resulting since the "outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza began in Asia in 2003".

Amongst the more startling is this one : In the past twelve months alone, some 30 countries have reported outbreaks of bird flu virus. Some 59 countries and territories in total have reported outbreaks since 2003.

At least 190 people have died from the bird flu virus in the past four years, according to the World Health Organisation, from an infected base total estimated to be more than 320.

However, most experts would agree that countries like Indonesia, China and Vietnam, with huge population masses spread across hundreds of islands and rural territories, and with vast numbers of people sharing their living quarters with poultry, have probably had higher than the WHO official totals of bird flu infections and subsequent deaths.

WHO has confirmed human deaths in Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Egypt, Nigeria, Laos, Turkey, Cambodia, Iraq, Thailand and Azerbaijan.

Here's some more facts and figures :
* According to WHO, Vietnam and Indonesia have the highest number of cases, accounting for 121 of the total deaths.

* 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.
The Reuters piece also compiles a list of symptoms of human bird flu infection, including :
...fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, conjunctivitis, pneumonia, acute respiratory distress, viral pneumonia...

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