The Tao of Politics

One of my main concerns is: how can I make a difference? There are thousands of political blogs out there. It’s easy to get lost in that ocean. So I may blog about politics on occasion, or I may blog about health issues, depending on where my interests lead me, and where I feel I can contribute something of significance.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Tao of Bird Flu
13. Pandemics come and pandemics go, but we will always have viruses and flu.

Bird Flu Notes
This is an important article about bird flu. It makes several points that are worth noting: a generic vaccine against bird flu will probably be ineffective because the virus has been circulating in China and Southeast Asia for ten years and has developed genetic diversity; most remaining doubts about migrating birds carrying the virus have been eliminated; in countries where decisive action was taken against bird flu, H5N1 was stopped; China should have taken such action but didn’t.

Dr. David Nabarro said recently that bird flu was only two mutations away from being transmissible human-to-human. Now the World Health Organization is expected to issue a statement clarifying that view, or retracting it altogether. Dr. Nabarro’s assessment could still be true, but no one can say with any certainty exactly how many mutations would be necessary to trigger a human pandemic.

One thing we need to keep in mind when dealing with bird flu: there is a lot that we know, and there is a lot that we don’t know.

The bird flu outbreak in Greece appears to be spreading, with an infected bird having shown up on the island of Skyros. My question: is it really spreading or are we just now finding out the true extent of the problem. As I mentioned above, H5N1 has had ten years to spread. That’s a lot of time, and a lot of miles covered by migrating birds. In short, that’s a lot of bird poop. Now it appears that the poop is hitting the fan, but I think the poop has been around a while. (Case in point: H5N1 now found in Iran. I don’t think this is something that just happened yesterday. I think it has been brewing for a while.)

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