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 Post subject: Bird Flu death rate can be catastrophic
 Post Posted: Sat Sep 24, 2005 3:58 pm 
Bird Flu death rate can be catastrophic

Should it develop certain genetic changes, international health experts warn, bird flu could spark a global pandemic, infecting as much of a quarter of the world's population and killing as many as 180 million to 360 million people - at least seven times the number of AIDS deaths, all within a matter of weeks.

There is a chance avian flu may never mutate into a strain suitable for human to human contact, but New York Daily News publisher Mort Zuckerman says the world should be aware that if the strain does mutate, the death rate will be catastrophic.

No immunity to the Avian Influenza H5N1 virus: Bird Flu - WHO

CDN / 23sep2005

WORLD Health Organisation (WHO) in a document released on Avian Flue Pandemic threat at the recently held WHO SEARO officials meeting in Colombo states: Virus H5N1 - The Avian Flu virus (H5N1) is highly unstable and may lead to emergence of a new pandemic virus to which the population has no immunity.

The virus which was mainly a disease of animals and humans rarely infected is presently found to be infecting both poultry and the human populations.

Human cases, 57 deaths

So far (from Dec. 2003 - Aug. 2005) in the SEARO region 112 cases of Avian Flu have been reported from four countries of which 57 have died.

The countries are:

Cases Deaths

Thailand 17 12
Vietnam 90 40
Cambodia 4 4
Indonesia 1 1

Evolving situation - Poultry Migratory Birds

The current outbreak among poultry is highly unprecedented. The virus is becoming increasingly pathogenic to the poultry. A wide range of animals becoming infected.

Jumping the human barrier
Migratory birds carrying the virus to long distances, and the virus jumping the species barrier and becoming highly virulent among the humans.

Migratory bird flyways are: Mississippi American Flyway, Pacific American Flyway, Atlantic American Flyway, East Atlantic Flyway, East Africa West Asia Flyway, Central Asia Flyway (covers India Sri Lanka etc.) and East Asia Australian Flyway.

Pre-requisites for a pandemic

Two met one to go
Among the three pre-requisites for a pandemic the Avian Flu Virus (H5N1) has already met two.

(1) Emergence of a novel virus to which all are susceptible.
(2) New virus being able to replicate in humans and cause disease, and the one yet to go being.
(3) The virus transmitting efficiently from human to human.

Next pandemic is now over due
From 1883 up to 1963 there had been influenza pandemics in almost 10 to 20 years intervals, but from 1973 up to now for the last 37 years there have been no pandemics.

Massive social, political and economic collapse globally

Among the possible consequences of a pandemic are:

(1) Health consequences, up to 25 per cent of global population becoming ill, with 2-7 million deaths.
(2) Health and other services being not able to cope, as 28 million could be hospitalised, and
(3) Massive social, political and economic collapse globally.

Influenza vaccines issues
Avian influenza vaccine - presently under development.

SEAR countries may have limited access to pandemic vaccines and they need to explore regional production.

Issues and challenges at country level
* Not all countries have a national pandemic plan.
* Weak public health infrastructure.
* Lack of adequate national resources.

What member countries can do
* Formulate national pandemic preparedness plans.
* Establish programme management structure.
* Strengthen multisectoral collaboration.
* Facilitate inter-country and inter-regional collaboration.

Pandemic preparedness in SEAR
Bangladesh: Draft prepared and WHO reviewing the draft.
Bhutan: None, and WHO mission planned from September 18.
DPR Korea: None, and WHO mission planned.
India: Draft prepared and under review.
Indonesia: Draft prepared and WHO mission completed.
Maldives: None, and WHO assistance ongoing.
Myanmar: Draft ready and WHO initial mission completed.
Nepal: Under preparation and WHO mission in the country.
Sri Lanka: None, and WHO support offered.
Thailand: Final document ready and on the web.
Timor-Leste: WHO reviewing draft plan.

Flu pandemics in the 20th century

1918: Spanish flu - 20-40 million deaths.
1957: Asian Flue - 1-4 million deaths.
1968: Hong Kong Flu - 1-4 million deaths.

Lessons from previous pandemics * Pandemics are highly unpredictable.

* They have caused enormous mortality and economic devastation.
* Most originated in Asia.
* Public health interventions eg. quarantine and travel restrictions delayed but could not prevent its spread.
* Vaccine can have a great impact but manufacturing capacity still very limited.

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