Tuesday, March 14, 2006

H5N1 - Possible Cluster.

Experts are being sent to Azerbaijan as several people died and three tested positive for an H5 flu virus. The other deaths are being investigated and it is not currently known (by me at least) if the virus was H5N1. While this is not panic worthy it might be noted that family/cluster outbreaks are one of the predictions made by epidemiologists as to what to expect to see before a pandemic. With several clusters in a village or region being a big alarm bell.
In the mix are several possible cases clustered in families. WHO is constantly on the lookout for clusters of cases, as they may be a sign of human-to-human spread of the virus.
Here are the effects of the 1918 flu but many say that a flu pandemic won't be so bad because many of the deaths were due to secondary bacterial infections and dehydration that we can now treat. Unfortunately this misses the fact that much of the world has insufficient resources to cope with the existing health crises like AIDS and dehydration from simple diarrhea causing diseases. With that in mind it might help to read this account of the 1918 flu and imagine living in one of the developing world's nations if H5N1 goes big time.

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