COMBATING INFECTION: Avian influenza: Are you ready for a pandemic?

September 2005 
Volume 35  Number 9
Pages 26 - 27
  PDF Version Available!



THE FIRST HUMAN cases of avian influenza, or “bird flu,” were diagnosed in 1997 in Hong Kong. In the most recent outbreak from December 2004 to July 2005, at least 109 people had been stricken and 55 had died in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, and Indonesia. (As we went to press, two additional deaths in Vietnam had been reported.) All the victims were people living or working closely with domestic chickens or ducks, and all were infected with avian influenza A virus, subtype H5N1. For every documented case, many more are probably never diagnosed or reported.

The avian flu virus is found in the nasal secretions and droppings of wild and domestic fowl. Although wild birds may carry the disease without becoming sick, domestic chickens, ducks, and turkeys are highly susceptible to disease.

Through mutation, the virus has now acquired the ability to infect and sicken humans as well. Because humans have no history of exposure ...

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