Of Bird-Flu, Pigs, Cats, Dogs, Shrews, and Tigers.

Crawford Kilian’s H5N1 Croftsblogs and the Effect Measure are two of my favourite sounding boards, for all matters regarding the Bird-Flu virus.

Refreshingly, almost all of the posts as well as the comments of the visitors to these two sites are well thought out and reasonable and even though the boffins on the Effect Measure do have their shin dings every now and then, it is almost always based on facts and not fiction.

Of course there are exceptions.

So as I was going through the Effect Measure blog today about the really interesting problem of the apparently invisible source of the H5N1 virus that seems to appear out of no where, causes a certain number of human infections and then promptly vanishes as quietly as it had arrived.

I was impressed with the bit at the end of the post saying:

“Maybe it’s not true that almost all cases are from infected birds. Maybe there are other reservoirs in the environment, animate or inanimate. There is some equivocal data from feral cats. What else? There has been very little systematic surveillance of wildlife other than birds for infection with this virus. Maybe it’s time to do it. Just a thought.”

Revere, I believe that you are absolutely correct.

This is exactly the conclusion that I have arrived at after monitoring the Bird-Flu saga over the last 3 years. 

It is true that every now and then there is a small “cluster” of Bird-Flu fatalities resulting in the repeat of the banner headlines in the main line media as well as in the flubie blogs declaring a mutation of the virus enabling it to be able to jump the species barrier from birds to humans.

If you examine all the statements closely however, you will find that there was never a definite positive confirmation of a human to human infection at any of these clusters.

Instead, there is always a “negative proof” (such as there were no birds near the victim) provided for the perceived  human to human infection of the virus.

There is ample proof on the other hand, of other reservoirs of the H5N1in the environment.

The H5N1 has infected not only birds and humans, but also many other mammals over the last few years.

The H5N1 has been found in creatures, ranging from shrews, pigs, cats, dogs to even tigers and leopards!

  

See: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=15663858

(Moreover, a close look through the very large archived data, comprising of Bird-Flu News as well as Blogs at the birdflubreakingnews.com, will show that these non-bird-H5N1 cases have been more frequent than is realised by most of us.)

I have lived in South East Asia for a while and can tell you that the flocks of poultry are not the only form of life in constant and close contact with humans in the rural settings in that area.

So I thought that the post by Revere was really informative.

A responding comment from Sigrid van Dort of Holland was also very interesting.

He is from the why-panic-about-the-bird-flu camp and presents fairly reasonable arguments for the same.

I think that he is wrong about many things but his posts are worth reading.

But then, along came JOHN, the exception that I was talking about.

There was this post that began with the very firm and apparently absolutely true statement:

“It has already been established that the virus has spread from person to person.” said John, adding that “The death rate is extremely high”. 

“The real problem arises if it mutates into a form that spreads more easily.” John informed us, “Some think this is just a matter of time, given the nature of flu viruses.” he said, sounding now very much like the phseodo bird flu site that are really pointers to a bird flu related product for sale.

Sure enough in the next line John invited us all to go to his site where he is offering all kinds of goodies, including a free guide to the Pandemic Bird Flu! John, I would like to respectfully suggestt that even though there is nothing at all wrong in trying to promote any products, could I please persuade you not to peddle your products at this blog, as there is very little chance of any one here receiving the undoubted benefits of the said products. 

Here are links to two of the best Bird-flu related sites:

http://scienceblogs.com/effectmeasure/2007/07/where_in_the_world_is_the_h5n1.php

http://crofsblogs.typepad.com/h5n1/2007/07/away-one-more-t.html

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