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Bird flu pandemic

The following information was posted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and is the best description of a bird flu pandemic that we have seen so far.

"Avian influenza refers to a large group of different influenza viruses that primarily affect birds. On rare occasions, these bird viruses can infect other species, including pigs and humans. The vast majority of avian influenza viruses do not infect humans. An influenza pandemic happens when a new subtype emerges that has not previously circulated in humans. For this reason, avian H5N1 is a strain with pandemic potential, since it might ultimately adapt into a strain that is contagious among humans. Once this adaptation occurs, it will no longer be a bird virus--it will be a human influenza virus. Influenza pandemics are caused by new influenza viruses that have adapted to humans.

Influenza pandemics are recurring events.

An influenza pandemic is a rare but recurrent event. Three pandemics occurred in the previous century: “Spanish influenza” in 1918, “Asian influenza” in 1957, and “Hong Kong influenza” in 1968. The 1918 pandemic killed an estimated 40–50 million people worldwide. That pandemic, which was exceptional, is considered one of the deadliest disease events in human history. Subsequent pandemics were much milder, with an estimated 2 million deaths in 1957 and 1 million deaths in 1968. A pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus emerges and starts spreading as easily as normal influenza – by coughing and sneezing. Because the virus is new, the human immune system will have no pre-existing immunity. This makes it likely that people who contract pandemic influenza will experience more serious disease than that caused by normal influenza.

The world may be on the brink of a bird flu pandemic.

Health experts have been monitoring a new and extremely severe influenza virus – the H5N1 strain – for almost eight years. The H5N1 strain first infected humans in Hong Kong in 1997, causing 18 cases, including six deaths. Since mid-2003, this virus has caused the largest and most severe outbreaks in poultry on record. In December 2003, infections in people exposed to sick birds were identified. Since then, over 100 human cases have been laboratory confirmed in four Asian countries (Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Viet Nam), and more than half of these people have died. Most cases have occurred in previously healthy children and young adults. Fortunately, the virus does not jump easily from birds to humans or spread readily and sustainably among humans. Should H5N1 evolve to a form as contagious as normal influenza, a bird flu pandemic could begin.

All countries will be affected.

Once a fully contagious virus emerges, its global spread is considered inevitable. Countries might, through measures such as border closures and travel restrictions, delay arrival of the virus, but cannot stop it. The pandemics of the previous century encircled the globe in 6 to 9 months, even when most international travel was by ship. Given the speed and volume of international air travel today, the virus could spread more rapidly, possibly reaching all continents in less than 3 months.

Widespread illness will occur.

Because most people will have no immunity to the bird flu pandemic virus, infection and illness rates are expected to be higher than during seasonal epidemics of normal influenza. Current projections for the next pandemic estimate that a substantial percentage of the world’s population will require some form of medical care. Few countries have the staff, facilities, equipment, and hospital beds needed to cope with large numbers of people who suddenly fall ill.

WHO will alert the world when the bird flu pandemic threat increases.

WHO works closely with ministries of health and various public health organizations to support countries' surveillance of circulating influenza strains. A sensitive surveillance system that can detect emerging influenza strains is essential for the rapid detection of a pandemic virus. Six distinct phases have been defined to facilitate pandemic preparedness planning, with roles defined for governments, industry, and WHO. The present situation is categorized as phase 3: a virus new to humans is causing infections, but does not spread easily from one person to another."

Below the list are the most up-to-date news headlines relating to the bird flu pandemic threat

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bird flu pandemic - Google News
Deadly Bird Flu In China Evolves, Spreads To New Regions - NPR Thu, 07 Sep 2017 20:51:10 GMT

NPR

Deadly Bird Flu In China Evolves, Spreads To New Regions
NPR
This past year China had the largest outbreak of a deadly bird flu since the virus was first detected in March 2013. For the past five years, China has had annual waves of H7N9 outbreaks that peak around January and February. During the 2017 season ...

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This year's bird flu outbreak killed a record 281 people in China - VICE News Wed, 06 Sep 2017 17:08:55 GMT

VICE News

This year's bird flu outbreak killed a record 281 people in China
VICE News
This flu strain — a virus technically named H7N9 — has flared up in China every year since March 2013, when it first broke out in the country. Yet this year's outbreak was more deadly than almost every previous outbreak combined: Between October 7 ...

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H7N9 Avian Flu Continues to Spread, Worsen in China - Medscape Tue, 12 Sep 2017 12:57:21 GMT

Medscape

H7N9 Avian Flu Continues to Spread, Worsen in China
Medscape
The fifth outbreak involved all but three of 33 provinces, regions, and municipalities in China. All infected patients had either lived in or traveled to these areas, and most (90%) infections were associated with poultry exposure, especially at live ...

Bird flu threat alive and well: Ministry - Jakarta Post Thu, 21 Sep 2017 20:43:11 GMT

Jakarta Post

Bird flu threat alive and well: Ministry
Jakarta Post
Better safe than sorry: Officials from South Tangerang's Food Security, Agriculture and Fisheries Agency disinfect BSD Modern Market in South Tangerang, Banten, on Tuesday as part of the Health Ministry's influenza pandemic simulation. The exercise was ...

Zim conducts study to assess avian flu's impact on economy - The Herald Mon, 18 Sep 2017 22:58:04 GMT

The Herald

Zim conducts study to assess avian flu's impact on economy
The Herald
Zimbabwe has been hit by a shortage of broiler chicks and table eggs after Irvine's, the country's biggest poultry producer, was hit by an outbreak of bird flu in the past few months. The company was hit by two avian flu outbreaks in May and July ...

Bird flu continues unabated in S. Africa - Vanguard Sun, 10 Sep 2017 18:52:11 GMT

Vanguard

Bird flu continues unabated in S. Africa
Vanguard
Bird flu has continued to spread in South Africa as more cases of the outbreak were recorded in six of the nine provinces, authorities said on Sunday. To date, more than 600,000 birds have been culled, according to the Department of Agriculture ...

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BATANG MINDANAW: Why Mindanawons should prevent the spread of bird flu - Minda News Fri, 08 Sep 2017 10:40:11 GMT

Minda News

BATANG MINDANAW: Why Mindanawons should prevent the spread of bird flu
Minda News
For humans to not get the bird flu, one of the best ways is to stay away from sources of the flu. Avoid going to poultry farms or in live animal market if you came from a country with bird flu outbreak. It is best to go to the doctor if you have flu ...

Insurer Can't Duck Egg Producer's Bid For $2M After Bird Flu - Law360 (subscription) Tue, 12 Sep 2017 20:42:28 GMT

Insurer Can't Duck Egg Producer's Bid For $2M After Bird Flu
Law360 (subscription)
... 2017, 4:31 PM EDT) -- A Minnesota federal judge found Tuesday that Illinois Union Insurance Co. can't duck out of paying a Midwest egg farm operator up to $2 million for the replacement of more than 8 million chickens in the wake of a bird flu ...

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A Warning for World Leaders from Kofi Annan - New York Times Wed, 20 Sep 2017 19:07:58 GMT

New York Times

A Warning for World Leaders from Kofi Annan
New York Times
She listed all the ways in which she said the United Nations had come to the world's aid: stamping out piracy in the Horn of Africa, stemming the bird flu pandemic and the spread of the Ebola virus. Without multilateralism, she said, “none of the big ...

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Vaping debate: Are health officials deceiving us for our own good? - The San Diego Union-Tribune Thu, 21 Sep 2017 13:01:56 GMT

The San Diego Union-Tribune

Vaping debate: Are health officials deceiving us for our own good?
The San Diego Union-Tribune
In 2006, warnings by U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt and other officials that a pandemic bird flu could leave millions dead were sharply criticized as misguided and counterproductive by critics including Pentagon consultant ...

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