We are a Step Closer to a Human Pandemic Flu…. now that Avian flu can spread between humans
The mutation of the current Bird-Flu virus in to a virus that can cause Human to human infection has been the greatest fear for all who have been following this potentially killer virus.
There have been reports of several “clusters” of humans over the last few years, who have apparently been infected with H5N1, without any contact with infected birds or poultry.
However, in all of these cases, there has always been a doubt, a possibility that the infection had in fact directly or indirectly, passed on to the victims from infected birds.
If the H5N1 can be shown to pass from human to human, then it means that it has already mutated to a step closer to the dreaded Pandemic Flu.
It seems that our worse fears may have come true.
In the first systematic, statistical analysis of its kind, using a computerized disease-transmission model, infectious-disease-modeling experts at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center confirm that the avian influenza A (H5N1) virus in 2006 spread between a small number of people within a family in Indonesia.
The cluster contained a chain of infection that involved a 10-year-old boy who probably caught the virus from his 37-year-old aunt, who had been exposed to dead poultry and chicken feces, the presumed source of infection.
The boy then probably passed the virus to his father. The possibility that the boy infected his father was supported by genetic sequencing data.
Other person-to-person transmissions in the cluster are backed up with statistical data.
All but one of the flu victims died, and all had had sustained close contact with other ill family members prior to getting sick — a factor considered crucial for transmission of this particular flu strain.
In an attempt to contain the spread of the virus, the local health authorities eventually placed more than 50 surviving relatives and close contacts under voluntary quarantine and all, except for pregnant women and infants, received antiviral medication as a precaution.
The findings, by biostatistician Ira M. Longini Jr., Ph.D., and colleagues, appear online and will be published in the Sept. 1 print edition of Emerging Infectious Diseases, a journal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The containment strategy was implemented late in the game, so it could have been just luck that the virus burned out,” Longini said.
“It went two generations and then just stopped, but it could have gotten out of control.
The world really may have dodged a bullet with that one, and the next time we might not be so lucky,” he said.
Should a strain of avian flu acquire the ability to cause sustained human-to-human transmission, the results could be catastrophic, Longini said.
“If not contained, the outbreak could spread worldwide through the global transportation network faster than the appropriate vaccine supply could be made available. That’s why it’s so important to ascertain whether human-to-human transmission is happening as well as the virulence of the strain.”
Sources & Credits:
Filed under: 1918, Anti-viral, Avian Flu, bio containment lab, Bio Security, Bird Flu, Bird Flu protection, Bird-Flu leadership Summit, Bird-Flu Map, Chickens, CIDRAP, cytokine storm, DEFRA, Flu, Flu Summit, H5N1, H7N2, Health, Hollywood, Human Bird Flu, Human-To-Human H5N1, India, Indonesia, Infection, Influenza, Mutation, Pandemic, pathogen, Politics, Poultry Factory Farms, Sex, UK, UNICEF, USA, vaccine, Virus, WHO |