Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Birds! The Birds!



The Avian Flu, according to WorldNetDaily, may be showing signs of mutating to human-to-human transmission. Naturally, WHO, the World Health Organization is frenziedly spreading the alarm:
With one small genetic adjustment in Influenza A, or H5N1, millions of people could die, warns World Health Organization Regional Director for the Western Pacific Shigeru Omi. Omi has called for health ministers and representatives to launch an all-out war on the deadly strain.

If the virus acquires sufficient human genes, allowing transmission from one person to another, an estimated 2 million to 7.4 million people around the world could die, the WHO estimates.
Let's keep some perspective here, folks. The fact is that, normally, diseases take one of two routes:

  1. High fatality rate, but petering out quickly
  2. Low fatality rate, but spreading widely

An example of the first is Ebola - despite the panic at its inception, it just doesn't spread that widely, and it is relatively easy to deal with, by using standard quarantine methods.

An example of the second is colds - almost everybody gets one, but they are mild diseases, causing serious problems only for the immune-compromised.

In 3rd world countries, this could have the potential for trouble, particularly when you factor in newly-emergent economies, with greater travel between cities and countries. So, it's reasonable for Asia, Africa's cities, and much of Europe (almost like a 3rd world country today) to be worried.

But the US has little to fear.

  • We're a relatively healthy country. I know that's hard to believe when you watch the news, but we are well-fed (too much), have good access to health care (despite what you hear - I mean, it's expensive, but it exists), and have the advantage of a broad and varied gene pool.
  • Our government is capable of responding to crisis. We can rush in the vaccines, curtail travel, bring in the health care workers, and keep any outbreak contained.
  • The disease is relatively short-lived. You quickly get sick. That eliminates one problem of some diseases, such as AIDS, which is a long incubation period.

So, don't get hysterical. Sure, take care of yourself, and, if symptoms arise, get medical assistance. But, don't obsess over the threat.

the very mild symptoms present in both patients, neither of whom had had any recent contact with birds or poultry.


Tags = Health and Wellness

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