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Bird Flu Expert Warns Of 50% Death Rate

Bird Flu expert Robert G. Webster believes there is a 50-50 chance the avian flu could mutate to become easily transmissible to humans. If that happens up to 50% of the worlds population may die, from the flu.

March 14, 2006 (ABC News) -- Robert G. Webster is one of the few bird flu experts confident enough to answer the key question: Will the avian flu switch from posing a terrible hazard to birds to becoming a real threat to humans?


There are "about even odds at this time for the virus to learn how to transmit human to human," he told ABC's "World News Tonight." Webster, the Rosemary Thomas Chair at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., is credited with being the first scientist to find the link between human flu and bird flu.

Webster and his team of scientists are working to find a way to beat the virus if it morphs. He has even been dubbed the Flu Hunter.

...If the virus does mutate, it does not necessarily mean it will be as deadly to people as it is to birds. But experts such as Webster say they must prepare for the worst.

"I personally believe it will happen and make personal preparations," said Webster, who has stored a three-month supply of food and water at his home in case of an outbreak.

"Society just can't accept the idea that 50 percent of the population could die. And I think we have to face that possibility," Webster said. "I'm sorry if I'm making people a little frightened, but I feel it's my role."

Other scientists poo-poo his doomsday warnings, but even they acknowledge if the avian flu mutates there could be loss of life on a magnitude not seen since the bubonic plague. But other than that things are just peachy...


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Comments (36)

This is can be a scary thin... (Below threshold)
Imhotep:

This is can be a scary thing to contemplate, but 50% is a little high. Avian flu is very scary.....there is no cure; it is probably similar to the 1918-1919 strain from Kansas, otherwise known as the Asian or Spanish flu.

Google is your friend.

I think this disease is the... (Below threshold)
jc:

I think this disease is the consequence of humans not treating chickens humanely. Not that I'm a PETA nut or anything, but the way they stuff them in little cages all bunched together and drug them with steroids, antibiotics, and dope, and even cut off their beaks and stuff, it's no wonder that some nasty viruses would be produced in that environment.

It's no different from getting mad cow disease from feeding cows the brains of other cows.

I hate to say it but... if ... (Below threshold)

I hate to say it but... if a huge meteor appears and crashes into North America, a whole lot of people will die.

And if I win the lottery I'll be rich.

I'd be far more impressed with Webster if he had some plan or practical advice for how to keep the flu from spreading. Hole up in his house for 3 months? Who does he think is going to do all the things that need to be done? Is he suggesting we just *stop*? The doctors just stop treating people? The nursing home workers just stop going to work? And we can all just stop for three months?

It doesn't matter what society will accept. If he's forseeing the collapse of civilization it won't take 3 months of food stored up, it will take weapons, a reloader, and a mule.

"Rumsfeld is keeping his $h... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

"Rumsfeld is keeping his $hares for the time being." http://cleveland.indymedia.org/news/2005/11/17763.php

Let's see, Spanish flu kill... (Below threshold)
kamatu:

Let's see, Spanish flu killed around 5%, mainly from inadequate medical care. We have a few more hospital beds these days since most places don't have to depend on the guest bedrooms at the local doctor's house. Hmmmm, we now have analgesics readily available, cough syrups galore, antihistamines never before seen and diarrhea remedies that work. Let alone clean water, clean food and generally better understanding of hygiene (wash your hands people). So, how the devil does this thing get to an order of magnitude greater lethality?

Oh, I get it, this guy subscribes to the migratory bird spreading theory (which somehow doesn't kill massive numbers of migratory birds between outbreak sites) instead of the commercial poultry trade route spread theory (which explains the outbreaks away from migratory birds).

http://www.grain.org/briefings/?id=194

Hmmm.1. The fatali... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmm.

1. The fatality rate for people who get infected with H5N1 is around 80%.

2. Every suburban community that I know of is infested with Canadian non-migratory geese.

3. The infection is being spread by migratory birds that are heading westward. If the infection doesn't spread to Spain by April then North America will likely be spared this year.

4. Spanish Flu comparisons:

a. Modern doctors have lost a lot of the treatment skills that Spanish Flu (SF) doctors had. Our doctors are used to being able to hand out prescriptions to cover almost anything and to have ventilators available for contingencies. The very first thing to run out will be ventilators and without a ventilator it's very unlikely a patient will survive.

The issue is that there might have been successful low-tech treatments for Spanish Flu that have been lost because they are low-tech.

b. The population of America has vastly increased since the Spanish Flu which means 5% today is a lot larger than 5% then.

c. Americans are very much unused to not being given treatment for their ills. Even with all of the screaming about health insurance crisis, we're all pretty used to being able to go to the emergency room and get looked at no matter what the injury or illness.

If the SF hits and is human to human transmissible then it's very likely that all of the emergency rooms will shut down in short order. The number of available hospital beds has drastically decreased over the years due to consolidation. Additionally if H5N1 follows SF in it's infection patterns then it'll kill off or infect the nursing and medical staff in short order. In effect the emergency rooms will close because there won't be enough beds and won't be enough medical staff.

d. Because of JIT, Just In Time, logistics most American cities and towns are approximately 3-4 days from running out of food in the stores. Most households have a few more days within the pantry so figure that if the food deliveries are interrupted for more than 5-6 days then large sections of America will begin to get very hungry.

This also very much includes medicines.

e. The most basic means of combatting H5N1 will be quarrantine. Nobody allowed out of their homes and anyone who does will probably be shot, regardless of the reason, unless you're essential for America's survival.

We'd probably see a general callup for any and all veterans even those in the Inactive Reserves. Reactivated veterans would probably be dragooned into providing intersection security, to prevent movement, and transportation / disbursement of MREs to the civilian population. If possible since I have no idea just how many MREs the military has.

It could take 3-4 months before H5N1 would burn out because it's normal vector are wild and domestic birds. So you could have a large population of wild birds out there that are carrying H5N1 that doesn't affect them, but is deadly to us. So even if the initial outbreak is controlled, new emerging outbreaks could happen constantly and so continue to disrupt both social life and the economy.

*shrug* this is all off the top of my head. I could be wrong so let's hope I am. But if it means anything to anyone here I'm currently stocking food and supplies for myself and friends sufficient for 4 months.

And yes it's currently filling up a spare bedroom and walk-in closet. *shrug* if nothing happens I can always use this stuff anyways.

I guess someone had to out-... (Below threshold)

I guess someone had to out-speculate the UN, who put the coming death toll at 5 to 150 million.

At best, the fatality rates... (Below threshold)
Tom:

At best, the fatality rates reported for bird flu are guesstimates. No one knows how many times the H5N1 strain presents itself as a head cold or just run of the mill flu.

Also, contrary to popular belief, the flu does not normally kill people. Secondary infections and dehydration are what kill people. There are rare occasions when the flu kills, but its not very likely with proper medical treatment.

My prediction for bird flu is that it will fall by the wayside with other end of the world scenarios like Y2K and global warming.

I probably fit into the "ca... (Below threshold)
Dave in W-S:

I probably fit into the "cautiously pessimistic" category on the avian flu. I don't think this is all just scare tactics and sensationalism. There are a number of significant research lines that have been tracking this thing in detail. The U.S. government is, in fact, taking this thing pretty seriously. Check the Center for Disease Control site for some good information.

One of the outfits that seems to have been out front in research on the genetics of flu virus is Recombinomics, Inc. a genetic engineering outfit that has specialized in flu and anti-viral research. They seem to be more pessimistic about the current progress of the bug. Per their March 3 press release (emphasis added),

PITTSBURGH, Mar. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Recombinomics is issuing a warning based on the identification of American sequences in the Qinghai strain of H5N1 isolated in Astrakhan, Russia. The presence of the America sequences in recent isolates in Astrakhan indicates H5N1 has already migrated to North America. The levels of H5N1 in indigenous species will be supplemented by new sequences migrating into North America in the upcoming months.

Recombinomics uses its patent pending technology to trace the movement of informative sequences in influenza. This approach has identified H9N2 sequences that have migrated from Asia into British Columbia in Canada and California in the United States to recombine with H5N2. Similarly North American sequences from a wide range of sero-types have been found in Astrakhan H5N1 sequences. These data indicate H5N1 is currently expanding its geographical reach into the Americas. Surveillance by Canada and the United States is lacking, as neither country has detected any H5N1 infections.

The monitoring of the movement of these sequences is improved with a robust and current influenza sequence database. The call for researchers to release sequences to a public database was issued in today's Science magazine. WHO maintains a private database with access limited to 15 laboratories. Many important sequences, such as those from human cases in Indonesia or from birds throughout Europe and the Middle East are held in this database until research papers are published, which can be months after sequencing.

"It is important to have the sequences available to the entire scientific community", said Recombinomics President, Henry Niman, Ph.D. "H5N1 is traveling and evolving rapidly, and effective monitoring of these changes is most efficient with current data. The WHO consulting labs do not monitor recombination. Recent sequences from China show clear examples of recombination, as noted by the Beijing based submitters of the sequences. These data do not support the WHO's conclusions that H5N1 evolves by random mutation. It is vital that the H5N1 sequences be made available to all researchers for effective monitoring of H5N1as well as for vaccine development."

Recombinomics supports the request in today's issue of Science that these sequences should be made public immediately. Recombinomics patent pending technology uses these viral sequences to predict the emergence of new and novel strains via recombination. This approach correctly predicted the recombination between H5N1 and H9N2 in domestic poultry that lead to the acquisition of the hemagglutinin polymorphism S227N, which increased the affinity of the hemagglutinin for human receptors. Similarly a new acquisition, G228S, is predicted via recombination between H5N1 and H1N1 in European swine. These predictions are based upon recent sequence information from the currently circulating H5N1 virus as well as donor sequences in a broad spectrum of influenza sero-types. H5N1 uses homologous recombination to create novel genes.

Kind of technical, but the gist of it seems to be that genetic evidence indicates (1) the bug has already started arriving in North America, (2) the WHO and other international organizations are NOT as on top of this thing as I wish they were.

If you are wondering what your local government, hospitals, schools, businesses, etc. should be doing to get ready for a possible (likely) pandemic, and how there actual planning activities stack up, the government has detailed checklists for everything from individuals on up to federal government.

All in all, this seems like a pretty scary thing. Maybe it's not time for the plastic sheets and duct tape ;-), but it is probably none too early to think seriously about what you would do to protect yourself and your family if and when this thing starts rolling in big and bad. Forewarned is forearmed, after all.

Hmmm.On a lighter ... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmm.

On a lighter note:

Researchers searched, found and dug up the corpse of an Eskimo who had died of Spanish Flu. They were able to recover active viruses of the Spanish Flu, determine that yes they were deadly and then promptly sent specimens to "labs" all over the world.

And by "labs" I mean labs in the middle east too.

Joy.

I can't take Bird Flu serio... (Below threshold)

I can't take Bird Flu seriously as a threat to this country, not after we all didn't die of SARS. Wasn't it supposed to kill us all?

Just saying.

Wow I wish I had Tom's opti... (Below threshold)
DAVE:

Wow I wish I had Tom's optimism. Ignorance is bliss I guess.

About every 100 years there is a transgenic shift which makes the flu unlike anything we've ever dealt with. It hits like Ebola. READ some of the archived articles on the 1918 Flu. THAT was another transgenic shift. The 1968 was a major change in existing flu strains but it was not a transgenic shift.

The world's major corporations spent BILLIONS making sure that Y2K disaster that was predicted didn't happen. Unfortunately we can't do a damn thing until H5N1 decides which polymorphisms it is going to acquire in order to infect us. Will it for sure. Who knows but if you look at what it has been doing and how it has "deployed" across the globe it looks like it is stalking a new food source and we are IT.

Tom, Global Warming has JUST STARTED. It ain't over dude. Methyl Hydrates are erupting from the Arctic. Hundreds of thousands of sq miles of Artic Tundra are melting down into the permafrost. The rotting heats further down and as it rots methanes are starting to spew into the atmosphere at rates the Earth has NEVER seen. Concentrations of CO2 are approaching global maximums. Ice cores prove that. There is a cascading greenhouse effect beginning and most of us think it is just exhaust pipes doing it. WRONG. The Earth is doing everything it can to eradicate the most destructive infestation this planet has ever been cursed with. US.

This is going to be a helluva ride even if H5N1 doesn't decide we're next on the menu but I'm betting on 2 months on the inside and 8 to 9 on the outside. It is too stable and organized NOT to acquire the last remaining protein link that it needs to jump human to human and WHEN that happens it is NOT going to be an insignificant "normal" flu. Dr. Webster stated today that it could very well kill HALF of us and of all the people speculating he probably the best qualified to kknow.

This is all set up by the g... (Below threshold)
Chaldo:

This is all set up by the government to introduce the new world order

Kevin, I've been writing on... (Below threshold)

Kevin, I've been writing on this subject for some time now. The claims by so-called experts get wilder and wilder as the reality continues to fail to match the hype.

No one has the ability to predict the timing of an influenza epidemic. We know of three, and that is far too limited a data set to make a prediction.

No one has the ability to predict which vatiant of flu will becaome pandemic. Avian flu has been seen in poultry since 1959. Since it was first detected in humans in 1997, less than 200 people out of a planetary population of over 6 billion have tested positive for it.

The team that documented the genome for the Spanish Flu noted that it was unlike any avian flu virus they had ever seen. At its worst, the mortality rate for Spanish Flu was about 5%.

Dr. Webster continues the hype without any shred of evidence to back his assertions. Smallpox had a mortality rate of 30% and it is one of the most infectious virii known.

Plague is a bacterium. It is easily treated with antibiotics. Comparisons between plague and pandemic flu are silly.

Most of the deaths from flu are due to the opportunistic infections, primarily pneumonia. We have oxygen therapy and antibiotics to threat that which did not exist in 1918. We also have a pneumonia vaccine.

My best suggestion for prevention is threefold:
1. Get an annual flu shot. This year's was spot-on for the strains that came through.
2. Get the pneumonia vaccination.
3. Wash your hands well, before and after handling food, after using the bathroom, and so on. 10-15 seconds of vigorous scrubbing.
4. Don't have chickens living in your house. That's what's killing many of the current victims of avian flu. Avian flu is a disease of bad hygiene at this time.

More:
http://blog.simmins.org/index.php/category/medicine/avian-flu/

If we all just believe in i... (Below threshold)
mantis:

If we all just believe in intelligent design the virus won't mutate.

Take your meds, Dave. Holy... (Below threshold)

Take your meds, Dave. Holy Shmoly... the Earth is trying to kill us?

Not that this is anything new... life has always had to scramble to outrace death, but destructive infestation? Stalking a food source?

If you must anthromorphize everything you're going to drive yourself mad.

The problem isn't that people aren't scared enough. The problem is that fear has no survival benefit and is therefore pointless to indulge in and possibly criminal to promote.

Why do people who run about waving their arms think they are doing something and that people who refuse to flap are... oh, I donno... failing an important duty or something?

The only way the human race is actually safe is through a diaspora, spread us out to the stars. Then if one population gets wiped out, some other population will remain.

At the very least, if we're living on Mars and Europa and orbiting distant stars a vengeful Gaia will be seriously S.O.L.

Actually a Bird Flu pandemi... (Below threshold)
Charles Bannerman:

Actually a Bird Flu pandemic might be what the doctor ordered. The worlds resources can only support a finite number of people and at some point the entire population, if unchecked, will be reduced to "living" at a subsistance level. When we reach the point that the food supply, oil, potable water, etc. can't support the population, cannibilism, starvation and other unsavory conditions will develop.
Nature has a way of balancing things out if man doesn't interfere and even then the natural balance is only delayed causing in many cases more misery than there would have been without the interference.
If Bird Flu turns into a pandemic, the hardest hit will be those with the least technology to combat it leaving the worlds resources to the most highly developed nations.
This is a really ugly scenario but that is the law of the jungle. Survival of the fittest.
Chuck

Personally, I think it's a ... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

Personally, I think it's a combination of things:

1) A potential real health threat
2) being hyped by people/scientists hoping to either be seen as humanity's savior or some sort of twisted "I told you so" or some self-serving form of "I'm superior and in-the-know and you're not".
3) A Media that has never found an issue it couldn't over-hype an already over-hyped issue.

and as for DAVE...please, dude, grab some healing crystals and organize the energy flow of your room to balance your aura..."eradicate an investation?"

Please, the planet isn't some sort of thinking being trying to cure itself. It's doing what planets do with complete disregard to what creatures happen to be the dominant species at the time. Step down the egotistical opinion of humanity--we aren't that important.

As usual, everyone misses t... (Below threshold)
Paul:

As usual, everyone misses the obvious answer...

Let's just kill all the birds before the virus gets here!

Problem solved.

Does Dr. Webster know somet... (Below threshold)
Pfwag:

Does Dr. Webster know something that the rest of us don't? Given his credentials, that is a good probability but "50% will die"?

According to the WHO cummalative death report, H5N1 is killing about 55% of those that catch it and typically 28% of the population catch every influenza that goes around. That would be 7% which is no where near as bad as 50% but still about 2.5 times the death rate for the Spanish Flu.

FYI: great and comprehensive BF article at http://www.arielco.us/page3.html

There won't be a vaccination for at least three months AFTER BF goes pandemic and has already killed 50% of everybody. Is that why Dr. Webster is going underground?

Ah, more proof that there i... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Ah, more proof that there is absolutely NO topic so divorced from politics that fuckwits like BryanD and mantis can't twist into an expression of their Bush Derangement Syndrome.

Hey, I got a blister on the sole of my heel last week, making it incredibly painful to stand or walk on that foot. Was that me trying to make myself ineligible for Chimpy McBusHitler's draft?

J.

I say we use genetic engiee... (Below threshold)
jc:

I say we use genetic engieering to clone an army of Dick Cheney's and then arm them all with shotguns to keep migratory birds from landing in the U.S.

[yawn]Bird flu is ... (Below threshold)
JRO:

[yawn]

Bird flu is sooooooooooo 2005.

Here's the problem. There's no "downside" - for anyone - to predicting THE END OF CIVILIZATION. For example, people predicted this about the Y2K dealie, and when that fizzled so comically, no one in the media went back to doomsayers like that dumbass kraut in some German bank and said, "What the fuck, dude? Are you stupid? Or an alarmist asshole?" So far as I know, this ignoramus is still in a position of power somewhere.

Same thing with SARS. "OMIGOD! We'll all die! Civilization will shut down! Economic collapse" Day after day, story after terrifying story. And then it just sorta petered out. No problem, after all. But did anyone return to the doomsayers and call their sanity into question?

Nope. In fact, many of the SARS doomsday-mongers are the same looneys who are now hootin' & tootin' about avian flu.

Just *once*, I'd like to see someone in the media go back to Dr. Osterholm or Laurie Garrett and say, "Waitjustaminute! You previously predicted [SARS doom / ebola doom]! Why should we believe you now, when you were proven such an alarmist nincompoop then?"

JRO

Dean also has an <a href="h... (Below threshold)

Dean also has an interesting post up on this subject.

I tend to fall into the "It's a lot of overreaction" camp for many of the reasons raised in the comments there.

We'll have to update the ol... (Below threshold)
JRO:

We'll have to update the old saw about economists to:

"World Health Officials; they've successfully predicted thirty of the last three global pandemics!"

JRO

Ah, GizmoNo matter w... (Below threshold)

Ah, Gizmo
No matter what Rummy does, BryanD will chalk it up as Rummy being a bad, bad man.
At least this time his conspiracy doesn't blame the joooos.

Hmmm.So....<... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmm.

So....

How about them Mets?

"I think this disease is th... (Below threshold)
John:

"I think this disease is the consequence of humans not treating chickens humanely. Not that I'm a PETA nut or anything, but the way they stuff them in little cages all bunched together and drug them with steroids, antibiotics, and dope, and even cut off their beaks and stuff, it's no wonder that some nasty viruses would be produced in that environment.

Posted by: jc at March 15, 2006 06:39 AM"

Oops. You are incorrect: H5N1 developed in nations where poultry is "free-range."

This is because of the unhygienic cohabitation of birds, pigs, and people allowing many genetic alleles to mix up.

Yes, birds raised in factories are more miserable than free-range birds (and I don't give a damn). Factory birds are also cleaner and isolated from other species. Thus, less breeding of new diseases.

Ah, more proof that ther... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Ah, more proof that there is absolutely NO topic so divorced from politics that fuckwits like BryanD and mantis can't twist into an expression of their Bush Derangement Syndrome.

Hey, I didn't say anything about the President. Plus I was just making a joke. Wake up on the wrong side of the futon Jay?

I saw the ABC broadcast and... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

I saw the ABC broadcast and have two things to note. 1) Dr. Webster put the odds that the bird flu virus will mutate to readily infect humans at 50%, but he didn't put a time line on it. The longer the time before such a mutation happens the better prepared we will be to counter it. 2) Dr. Webster has a 3 month supply of water and food stashed at his home. From that I conclude Dr. Webster takes the threat seriously and that once the virus hits, it should be mostly over in 3 months. It might not be a bad idea for folks to start building up a supply of food and water. No need to panic, just buy some extra long shelf life food items and bottled water each week (distilled drinking water goes for from 58 to 80 cents a gallon and if you haven't tried it, you'll find it makes the best coffee and tea).

The 1918 Spanish flu was a H1N1 virus. It never really went away, we just got use to it. In fact the current annual flu vaccine contains an H1N1 virus, substantially different than in 1918, but likely a descendent of that deadly bug. The genetic pressure on RNA virus like H5N1 is to become more contagious and less virulent. Becoming more contagious is obvious as it increases the number of hosts, but less virulent also increases the number of hosts. A virus that quickly kills a host has little time to multiply and a virus that incapacitates a host minimizes the opportunity to spread from host to host. As more contagious and less virulent strains emerge they outspread other strains and leave immunized or at least partly immunized hosts in their wake and this means extinction for the other strains. Nature has been at this a long time.

A very informative article from October 2005 can be found on WebMD. Turns out the 1918 Spanish flu was a bird flu. One thing to remember is that many of people who died from the Spanish flu were WWI solders in the trenches where they were exposed to the elements, under huge stress which suppresses the immune system, and this was long before there were antibiotics to treat secondary infections such as pneumonia. Had WWI not been going on, it's likely the death toll would have been far less.

"Rumsfeld is keeping his $h... (Below threshold)
Gizmo:

"Rumsfeld is keeping his $hares for the time being."

bryanD, Here's a litte Business 101 for you... You don't profit from share price until you sell it. Rummy has two options:
1) Take advantage of the flu hype and sell his shares now at their greatly inflated price and laugh all the way to the bank.
2) Hold on to them and if the flu hype is merely being manufactured by ChimpyMcHitler & Co., as the Left argues, then it will eventually pass and the stock price of Rummy's holdings will fall back and his paper gains will mostly or all disappear.

So, tell me how it's unethical for Rummy to not dump the stock now if you think the bird flu threat is being manipulated?

(And as to the point of the thread... I agree that 50% is way, way too high a figure. I've read that the 1918 flu mortality rate was more like 1.5%)

It won't be birds that spre... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

It won't be birds that spread the bird flu once it mutates into a strain highly contagious from human to human, it will be people on airplanes spreading it. The flu is typically contagious two or three days before a person has symptoms, so airport screening won't detect people in the early stages of the disease.

If 28% of the population ca... (Below threshold)

If 28% of the population catches any given strain of flu and 80% of people who contract the HN51 virus die, then that means that approximately 15% of the world's population will die if the HN51 strain maintains its virility and increases its contagiousness to the rate of normal flu strains. That's about 900 million people, which is about 3 times the population of the United States.

The only comparable disease in history was the Black Plague, which killed approximately 30% of Europeans and kept the continent in the Dark Ages for centuries. Real estate will be very cheap.

On the other hand, it may very well go the way of Y2K and nothing will happen.

-Stingray

Back to the ABCs. If the sy... (Below threshold)
Torange:

Back to the ABCs. If the sypply chain shuts down because the schools, daycare centers, nursing homes, etc. close, where are you going to get your cancer meds? Where are you going to get water pumps for your car? Where are you going to get electricity if a storm dammages the electric grid and there are few to repair it? Where are the water utilities going to get chlorine to sterilize the drinking water? Where are you going to get baby food?

Pfwag -- 55% of 28% is 15% ... (Below threshold)

Pfwag -- 55% of 28% is 15% of us, not 7%.

But while "typical" flu might be caught by 28%, we don't know if THIS flu will be more or less contagous. Of course, we also don't know if it will still be killing 55% of people who catch it. Worst case could be a LOT worse. Best case could be a lot better.

But what we DO know is this is a special case. It is almost the worst flu in birds ever seen, flu does migrate to human transmission, and this flu is currently killing half of all people hwo catch it.

And yes, they do know that, because they are testing everyone in villages where people are catching it to see if it presents as just a cold in some. It doesn't.

Again, we don't know what the transmission and fatality rates will be if it migrates, but it sure doesn't look good.

Here's the thing - if it starts to spread the entire economy will be disrupted. You won't even be able to count on basic services like food delivery to supermarkets. People will want to hide in their houses rather than risk catching something that is killing people, even if it is only 5%. Would YOU?

everyone should stop whinin... (Below threshold)
tomas:

everyone should stop whining about the boid flu.
just think of all the bills you will not have to pay once the creeps that run cable companies, telephone companies, utility companies, banks,
insurance, and ad-nauseum all drop dead from H5N1.
then the survivors can jump to the top and start the whole ugly mess all over again. ya gotta love greed and humanity.




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