Tuesday, April 30, 2013

One Sneeze Could Infect 150 People

An indication of just how fast and easily the bird flu virus could spread between humans in crowded cities if it ever turns pandemic :

A single sneeze in a busy area can end up infecting 150 people with a cold in just five minutes, new research suggests.
An analysis of the germs unleashed from a single commuter's sneeze showed that within minutes they are being passed on via escalator handrails or seats on trains and underground carriages.

At the busiest stations, one sneeze not smothered by a tissue or handkerchief will provide enough germs to infect another 150 commuters.

Dr Roger Henderson, a specialist in colds and flu, investigated how germs released by a sneeze would spread.

A single sneeze expels 100,000 droplets of germs into the air at 90mph. Individual droplets get transferred to handles, rails and other areas frequently held or touched. Up to 10 per cent of all commuters will come into contact with an area infected by that one sneeze, Dr Henderson calculated.

In the busiest areas, such as underground station escalators, this amounts to about 150 people during rush hour, he said.

How Many Actually Died During 2009-2010 Bird Flu Pandemic?

From New York Review of Books :

To the Editors:

Helen Epstein’s article “Flu Warning: Beware the Drug Companies!” [NYR, May 12] contains a significant factual error. It states that worldwide the death toll from the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic was 18,000. In fact, as the World Health Organization has tried, but apparently failed, to make clear, that number represents only laboratory-confirmed cases, and these numbers are a small fraction—possibly a tiny fraction—of the true death toll.
In the United States, there were 2,117 laboratory-confirmed deaths, yet the Centers for Disease Control estimate actual deaths in the US alone at between 8,870 and 18,300. Applying similar multiples to laboratory-confirmed cases around the world would yield 72,000 to 162,000 deaths. But that number, since it is still based on confirmed cases, still understates the deaths by a wide margin. Few countries—and none in the developing world—devoted much resources to testing cases. In many countries there were so few laboratory-confirmed cases that the number is meaningless. All of Africa had only 168 laboratory-confirmed deaths.
In addition, since the people who died were much younger than is normally the case from influenza, in terms of years of life lost the H1N1 pandemic was significantly more lethal than the raw numbers suggest.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

H7N9 Bird Flu Begins Killing People In China

Here we go again?

From the Daily Mail:
A deadly strain of bird flu previously unknown in people has begun to mutate into a form more likely to cause a human pandemic, scientists say.
Just days after authorities in China announced they had identified cases of H7N9, flu experts in laboratories across the world are picking through the DNA sequence data of samples isolated from patients to assess its severity.

One of the world’s top flu experts, Ab Osterhaus, from the Erasmus Medical Centre in The Netherlands, says the sequences show some genetic mutations that should put authorities on alert and entail increased surveillance in animals and humans.

'The virus has to a certain extent already adapted to mammalian species and to humans."

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