The first human to human transfer of the bird flu.....

I read this as a blip on one of the wire services, and no one seems to be talking about it. Apparently, an Indonesian man with the avian flu passed it on to his father. Why is this not a bigger deal? Hasn’t this been our biggest fear?

This is not really the first case of human-to-human transmission. It’s just the first case that’s been indisputably proven. But the World Health Organization isn’t in a full panic yet - the viruses that have managed to transmit themselves directly from one person to another apparently have been pretty feeble. They require prolonged close contact for transmission and have all died out within a short period. So far (and “so far” is the best hope we’ve got) there hasn’t been a virus that can be transmitted readily from one person to another on an ongoing basis.

Your biggest fear maybe.

My biggest fear? Heart Disease and Cancer. You know, 'cause they actually are a signifigant threat.

I suggest reading Culture of Fear by Barry Glassner. It’s not a perfect book, but goes into American’s fearing so many things. It’s also great because it’s written in 1999, before 9/11.

Avian Flu is real. It will mutate into new strains and depending on what those mutations are it might kill a few hundred million people.

The question is what are the odds that any particular mutation will be a highly lethal variant? I don’t think that anyone knows the answer to that. I did discover, however, that I have a natural immunity to the Avian Flu. It seems that ducks act as carriers for the disease, but it doesn’t make them sick, and since my last name is “Drake” I am obviously immune. :smiley:


Can I get today’s virus, with a side of fear and a cup of sensationalism, black, to go?

Could this be the new 1920s style death ray at the bottom of the ocean once?


Avian flu is a real threat. And the sensationalism is not a bad thing. If it prods governments to actually start developing vaccines and whatnot before an outbreak, I’m not going to complain. The government? Proactive? Say it ain’t so.

It might be a threat. Then again, it might be the big swine flu scare of 1976, where a quarter of the US population was vaccinated in a panic after one person died. Turns out more died from the vaccine itself than the flu, which only killed 25 people.

Yeah, so a mutation of the bird flu transmitted from one person to another. That doesn’t mean squat unless that particular mutation seems easy to occur, and particularly infectious and good at getting around. If it dies out in those two people and none of the above occurs, then that’s a dead end for the virus.

Or it could, if we’re unlucky, be like the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918 - the one that killed tens of millions in six months. Geneticists are saying the Avian Flu virus does appear to be similar to the 1918 virus.

20-25% of the people in the world caught the 1918 flu. The disease had a mortality rate of 10-20% among people who caught it.

Only about 200 people have caught H5N1 flu. But the mortality rate for people who’ve caught it is around 50%.

So now do the math. If H5N1 flu mutates into a strain that is as communicable as the 1918 flu was, that means around 1,500,000,000 people will catch it. And if its mortality rate remains unchanged, around 750,000,000 of those people will die.

One possible reason (grizzly, depressing) that the Indonesian outbreak isn’t being worried about too much is that the strain of flu killed the entire family carrying it thus killing itself off in the process with no carriers alive to pass it on.

Plus the human to human transfer seemed to be contingent on seven people living in close confinement with coughing sick family members. Not casual transmission.