Why are so many Children Succumbing to the H5N1 Bird Flu?

There may not be a global pandemic of the Flu virus, but it seems that almost every other day, there is yet another human infected with the Bird-Flu virus!

What is more, majority of the victims seem to be young children or teenagers!

Why is that?

Now there is yet another child being treated for suspected bird flu in Indonesia.

There are no obvious reasons for this many of these infections, as in many cases the victims have not even been in contact with infected poultry.

There is some thing really strange going on here guys!

So now Putri Amanda, a two-year-old girl is being treated for suspected bird flu at the Arifin Achmad general hospital in Pekanbaru, Riau.

“She is believed to suffer (from) bird flu based on the results of an x-ray and a laboratory test on her leucocyte,” Dr Azizman Saad SpP, chief of the hospital`s bird flu control team, said on Monday 20th of August.

The girl had developed fever symptoms similar to those of bird flu and has suffered high fever since August 10.

“She is now undergoing bird flu therapy. Her blood sample was sent to Jakarta today,” Dr Azizman Saad said.



Picture Credit: Nugi Kota Gadis Alias Madiun, Jawa Timur, Indonesia


4 Responses

  1. Last month the Indonesian government reported that the bird flu virus had mutated in chickens. Because of the over use of vaccinations, the chickens can now carry the virus without showing any symptoms or dying from the H5N1 virus.

    Little children also play in close proximity with the birds and pre-teenagers & teenagers are usually given the responsibility of feeding and taking care of the birds.

  2. Children are among the “sensitive groups” that have less than optimal immune systems. Childrens’ immune systems become more effective as they grow, so they are more susceptible to a wide variety of infectious diseases. The elderly are also more susceptible due to age related changes in the immune system. Young adults contracting an avian flu is of highest concern, because that would indicate that their immune systems cannot fight the disease even though they are in the time of life when their immune systems are functioning at optimal levels.
    There is a concern growing in Australia due to the recent deaths of several children who were diagnosed with pneumonia and the Wisconsin-like influenza virus. Pneumonia and influenza are often interchangeable in historical diagnoses, since one may follow the other. With our modern diagnostics, it can be determined whether influenza preceeded the pnuemonia in many cases.
    I have only a small concern that Avian H5N1 might mutate and adapt to infect humans on a global scale in the near future. Perhaps the nearer catastrophy would be that the lethal form of H5N1 could transfer it’s lethality genes (possibly even as a complete block) to one of the seasonal influenza viruses and cause a rapidly spreading, easily transmitted, global killer pandemic form.
    Because vaccine to immunize 7 billion people simply could not be produced, and because the continued culling of chickens might reduce the number of eggs available for vaccine production. Some vaccines can be produced without eggs, but some countries may lack the technology or facilities to produce vaccine in large quantities any other way.
    By culling the low pathogenic H5N1 positive chickens along with the high pathogenic H5N1 positive chickens, we eliminate the birds that carry natural immunity to the high pathogenic form. This leaves all remaining chickens vulnerable to the highly pathogenic form, selecting for that form to be more successful, due to greater virulence which enables it to burn through flocks, finding new hosts more quickly. Vulnerable flocks are a bad thing. Nature protects the birds from lethal forms of influenza with an initial mild wave of the disease. Humans are eliminating nature’s protection and applying selection pressures to the virus that select for greater virulence and easy transmission from one host to another. The unintended consequences of the global public health authority’s efforts could be to create the pandemic they dread. Fascinating stuff. It will be hugely interesting to see how it all plays out.

  3. The reason so many children and teens die is because they have healthy hearty immune systems… this is why it is so deadly to them. During infection over a period of days the body lets loose a cytokine storm and these eventually end up killing the victim. (They erode the linings of the lungs allowing fluids 2 leak in and fill the lungs, hench the children and teens die.

  4. Holiegh,
    You are correct that the cytokine storm is the primary factor in the death of the host (in most cases) and because of that the immune response in young adults is a factor in the virulence of the disease once they have it. But, speaking to transmission rate, young children are more likely to catch the disease in the first place, due to an underdeveloped immune system. More children catching it means that more children will die of it. It’s important to understand the curves that describe transmission within age groupings in historical influenza epidemics. Most are not W shaped, but of course, the 1918 pandemic had a W shaped curve. Many published resources fail to point out that children and the elderly had very high death rates during the pandemic. They focus on the young adults in the middle of the W because it is so rare to see a large percentage of young adults contract influenza and die of it. That’s what made the 1918 influenza pandemic so unusual. Usually, young adults with fully developed immune systems would have a lower rate of contracting the flu in the first place and a negligable death rate. H5N1 compares to the 1918 influenza virus only because it is an indiscriminate killer, like H1N1 was in 1918. Young adults die of H5N1 just like their younger and older counterparts, but you will note that many of the victims of H5N1 have been toddlers or older people, just like other influenza viruses. Toddlers can die of the usual seasonal influenzas even without those viruses carrying the lethality genes, so something like H5N1 is going to be really difficult for them to survive. In small children, there have been cases of H5N1 crossing the blood brain barrier and cases of intestinal flu causing death. It’s not always a cytokine storm. But this is a virus that is so lethal, when the immune system doesn’t kick in with full strength, it seems to find other ways to kill the host.

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