Dr. Andy

Reflections on medicine and biology among other things

Thursday, March 10, 2005

More Bird Flu

Two good posts on Avian Flu here and here. The first one has nice pictures

This is scary, but maybe not as scary as some people think.

First, the 1918-1919 pandemic was beyond category, even as pandemics go, a sort of pandemic among pandemics.

Second, in 1918 medical care was rudimentary at best. There were no intensive care units and no ventilatiors. It would be a decade before Fleming discovered penicillin and another decade before it was put into use. No we have all kinds of supportive care that might keep people alive until their immune system can fight back, not to mention an increasing arsenal of antiviral meds. And I think, under pressure, a vaccine could be produced pretty quickly, although it might not be 100% effective. Steps toward preparing for large-scale virus production are a huge step in the right direction

Of course all these things are available mostly in developed countries.

No doubt this could be scary, but I think it's very unlikely you'll see deaths in the 100s of 1000s in the U.S. or Europe.

Of course, what do I know, I thought SARS was going to be a global catastrophe.


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