Bird Flu – Want the Good News or the Bad News?

A report from the Yonhap New Agency recently told us about of the latest outbreak of the Avian Influenza virus in South Korea.
 
Apparently, The strain of avian influenza that broke out in South Korea this year, is a type that has not caused any human infections, as opposed to the various other strains found in Southeast Asia.
 
The strain of bird flu that has swept the country for the past five weeks is different from those found in Indonesia and Vietnam, where the disease has been transmitted to humans, resulting in many human deaths, according to an intermediary report by the National Veterinary Research Quarantine Service.

The report also said that this year’s outbreak was different from the strains that occurred in 2003 and 2006 in South Korea.

 
Surely this is very good news for us all.
 
Yes and no.
 
The most frightening part of the report is the casual mention of the fact that ” this year’s outbreak was different from the strains that occurred in 2003 and 2006 in South Korea.”
 
Apparently, we should now expect new mutations of this killer virus on a regular bases!
 
The rate of the mutation of the various strains of the Avian Influenza virus is rapidly growing, with new and different strains of the virus popping up at a faster rate all over the place.
 
The fact that the current mutation in South Korea has not caused any human infections does not mean that the next mutated strain of the virus would also be as kind to us as the current strain.
 
So even though we can be thankful for the South Korean throw of the “mutation dice”, yet we should realise that every harmless mutation, increases the chances of a really bad strain of the virus appearing the next time.
 
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BIRD FLU – Wild Birds or the “Factory Poultry Farms”?

BIRD FLU –  Wild Birds or the “Factory Poultry Farms”? 
 
The role of migratory birds and of poultry trade in the dispersal of highly pathogenic H5N1 is still the topic of intense and controversial debate.
 
On one side we have the mighty poultry farming sector, applying all kinds of pressure to absolve the “factory farms” from any blame for the increasing number of outbreaks of the H5N1 and other viruses.
 
From the Poultry farming sector’s point of view it is the wild birds, that bring the virus from the bird flu afflicted countries and infect the domestic poultry.
 
On the other side, we have equally passionate arguments from those who believe that it is the “factory farms” think Barnard Matthews, that are to blame for creating the un-natural conditions that result in the growth of the viruses.
 
Below is a “discussion” from the Virology Journal,  in a “provisional PDF document”:
 
 
What it is saying is that they are still talking about this and not ready to say one way or another!
 
Then there is an article from PETA, :
 
PETA warns of deadly link between Factory-Farm Filth and Bird Flu
 
Here is the article:

The growing Danger from the Zoonoses.

Zoonoses are defined by the WHO as “Diseases and infections which are naturally transmitted between vertebrate animals and man”.
 
In an article in the scientific American today, David Biello says that the best way to beat bird flu and other zoonotic diseases, he says, is to keep humans and wildlife healthy.
 
A zoonotic agent may be a bacterium, virus, fungus, parasite, or other communicable agent.

Zoonoses cover a broad and growing range of diseases and they can be transmitted by bacterium, virus, fungus, parasite, or a number of other (also growing) agents.

A recent study shows that these zoonoses such as H5N1 bird flu, West Nile and Ebola now account for as much as 58 percent of human pathogens and the number is growing fast.
 
In just the past five years, WHO has identified more than 1,000 epidemics stemming from such pathogens.
 
“There are more flu infections in more countries than ever before,” said veterinarian William Karesh, head of the Field Veterinary Program of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), during a WSC Conferance in New York City last week.
 
These diseases are hard to stop because they are not only spread by wild animals, mosquitoes and the like but, even more commonly, by billions of livestock animals, such as chickens, ducks and geese raised for food in vast factory farms.
 
Zoonotic outbreaks are triggered by a range of factors, including man-made changes to natural habitats that bring humans into contact with wildlife as well as airplanes and other forms of transport that allow “speedy, long-range dissemination of any disease agent,” says veterinarian Arnon Shimshoni of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
 
“There is an artificial distinction between the health of wildlife, livestock and people,” Karesh said. Sickness in one of these groups, can mean sickness in all.
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