Dr. Andy

Reflections on medicine and biology among other things

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Avian flu marches on

A second Turkish teenager died of bird flu on Thursday as a virus that has killed 74 people in east Asia claimed its first lives far to the west, on the fringes of Europe and the Middle East.

In a sign the disease may have infected people over a wide area of eastern Turkey, six people from a different province were taken to hospital with suspected bird flu. In all, doctors said 18 patients were under scrutiny and two of them very sick.

The most important factor preventing a pandemic is infectivity not geography, so this isn't that important. For a pandemic to occur, the H5N1 virus will have to develop the ability to be efficiently transmitted from human to human. As the Turkish teens lived in close contact with birds, there is no evidence that this has happenned. What this case dose demonstrate is how widespread H5N1 is in wild and domestic birds.


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