Is the world prepared for Bird Flu? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 03-02-2005, 12:59 AM
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Are we prepared for bird flu?

By Michelle Roberts

BBC News health reporter

Experts say it is no longer a case of if but when a pandemic of bird flu hits the human population.

Some countries have already started stockpiling drugs and testing vaccines to beat the virus.

The UK government has been criticised for being slow on the uptake, but announced its full pandemic plan on Tuesday.


We have to make up our minds now before it arrives on our doorstep

Professor John Oxford, Queen Mary's Medical School, London

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently urged all countries to develop or update their influenza "pandemic preparedness plans" after experts estimated anywhere between two and 50 million people could die if a pandemic hits and the world is not prepared.

Good health care will play a central role in reducing the impact, yet the pandemic itself could disrupt the supply of essential medicines and health care workers could fall ill.

Pandemic threat

Even in the best-case scenario, two million to seven million people would die and tens of millions would require medical attention, WHO says.

Experts have used their knowledge about past pandemics, such as the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak, and their experience with the strain of bird flu that has killed 42 people in Asia since 1997, to make a prototype vaccine.

If this strain, called H5N1 and which spreads from birds to humans, mutates to spread between humans, scientists believe this vaccine should help beat a pandemic.

However, a different strain might mutate to cause a pandemic.

By having stocks of the prototype, scientists will be able to make modifications to the vaccine so it is effective and countries will be able to test things such as the optimal dose of vaccine required and manufacturing capacity.

While this is happening, antiviral drugs can be used to decrease the risk of developing influenza and reduce the severity of illness.



A novel virus to which the community has no or little immunity

A virus that can replicate in humans and cause serious illness

A virus that can be passed directly from human to human

Source: WHO

US, French and Italian governments have heeded WHO's advice and all have placed orders for the vaccine. As yet, the UK has not.

A spokeswoman from the Department of Health said its new plan for a potential pandemic had taken on board the latest advice, technology and medicine.

"The department does not believe stockpiling vaccines is the best course to follow, as we cannot be sure what mutation of the virus would be involved in any pandemic."

Window of opportunity

Professor John Oxford, a virologist at Queen Mary's School of Medicine, said this was disappointing and could leave the UK vulnerable.

"There is a window of opportunity here now where we can begin to prepare ourselves," he said.

"But that window will close over coming weeks and months, so the sooner we act the better.


It might be like SARS where it can be contained at the early stage

Dr Alan Hay, director of the World Influenza Centre in London

"The big time bomb here is that once there is 100% evidence of human to human spread it will be too late to do anything about it. Once it starts it's likely to move quickly.

"We have to make up our minds now before it arrives on our doorstep."

Professor Oxford warned that once vaccine and antiviral drugs were ordered, it would take several months for the supplies to be made and delivered.

He said Canada and Australia had already ordered enough to protect a quarter of their populations.

He believes other countries should do the same and that richer nations should buy extra to donate to poorer countries.

"By ring-fencing an early outbreak there, we can help protect ourselves here," he said.

Professor Albert Osterhaus, professor of virology at Erasmus University Hospital, in Rotterdam, said most European countries were relatively unprepared.

"National plans have been established but a lot of gaps have got to be filled in," he said.

"As well as drugs and vaccines, there are other things that are logistic, like hospital capacity."

In the event of an outbreak, patients would need to be isolated to prevent them infecting other people and close contacts, such as close family members and hospital staff, might need treatment.

He said it would be helpful to have a pan-European policy rather than each country working on its own.

Buying time

But Dr Alan Hay, director of the World Influenza Centre in London, said: "I would not say we have been dragging our heels.

"To say that one country is more prepared than another is to assume that one can be very well prepared.

"If a pandemic strikes without warning then really there is only a certain amount one can do to combat the impact.

"We do not know what the scenario we might face is. It might be like Sars where it can be contained at the early stage."

Should early containment fail, once a certain level of efficient transmission is reached, no interventions are expected to halt international transmission, according to WHO.


Anything with the ability to kill up to 50 million people has to be a concern

Terry, Epsom, Surrey, UK

Have Your Say

The priority would then shift to minimising deaths and illness.

During pandemics, more severe disease tends to arrive with the second wave, it says.

Should this happen, a few more months might be available at the beginning of an outbreak to make more vaccine.

Each day gained could mean an additional five million doses of vaccine, WHO estimates.

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#2 Old 03-02-2005, 01:31 AM
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I have to say I'd be pretty peeved if I went to all the trouble to be vegan, and I got bird flu from another human...
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#3 Old 03-02-2005, 01:49 AM
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Originally Posted by epski View Post

I have to say I'd be pretty peeved if I went to all the trouble to be vegan, and I got bird flu from another human...

Same here

How can you eat anything with eyes? ~ Will Kellogg
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#4 Old 03-02-2005, 02:03 AM
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lol @ humanity
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#5 Old 03-02-2005, 06:17 AM
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Originally Posted by epski View Post

I have to say I'd be pretty peeved if I went to all the trouble to be vegan, and I got bird flu from another human...

I was under the impression that bird flu was gona originate by people eating chicken/eggs, then combine with our flu, making a new strain that can spread between humans. But why on the news do i see people working with chickens wearing masks? Is bird flu an airborne pathogen? Therefore people working in chicken sanctuaries could catch it.

I'm quite worried about this
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#6 Old 03-02-2005, 08:13 AM
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As far as I understand it is airborne (in the same sense that other influenza strains can be transmitted by breathing/sneezing), although right now I don't have the time/energy to look up a reference so don't take my word on it yet.

Yes it spreads from birds to people. That's not so special...what's more important is that it arose all of a sudden so that the population has not had time to build up its own immunity as for more common flu strains.

I'm not worried about getting this disease myself because I'm in good health and am well-fed and have health insurance. As usual, it's those in the poor and developing parts of the nation/world that are going to be in trouble.
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#7 Old 03-02-2005, 10:11 AM
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aren't the chickens supposed to deliver their payback in a non-veg*n harming way?
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#8 Old 03-02-2005, 10:17 AM
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What I want to know is, when did epidemics become PANdemics? And what will they call them when pandemic isn't shocking enough? Armaggedemics?

I am really tired of fearmongering by the press. Jeez! If everything they predicted, alluded to, or threatened came true, the world would have been nuked, smashed by an asteroid, all the species killed off by disease, the entire biosphere frozen, then burned by UV radiation, ad infinitum.

I, for one, am sick of it.

The Rev
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#9 Old 03-02-2005, 04:38 PM
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It is a pandemic if it affects the entire world.

From my understanding, this is what happens: A chicken gets the Avian flu, and excretes it. Someone inhales it and gets its flu. Now, if humanity has bad luck, this person also has the conventional flu.

The Bird Flu and the Conventional Flu teach each other new tricks and mutate into SuperFlu(tm). SuperFlu(tm) has a very high mortality and it able to infect people just like the regular flu can - contact, air, etc. SuperFlu(tm) originates somewhere (lets say in Asia). A rural farmer in China migrates to Shanghai. Suddenly, hundreds of thousands of people are exposed to SuperFlu(tm). Shanghai is a very large hub for all of Asia.

Businessman is in Shanghai and comes across SuperFlu(tm). After concluding a deal with a Japanese firm, he flies over to his home nation of France. Thousands of businessmen are doing just what he's doing - they return to their places of work and/or home nations. Suddenly SuperFlu(tm) is in France, Germany, Russia, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Australia...SuperFlu(tm) is spreading all over the entire world. Its mortality rate is 50-75% and with millions upon millions of people carrying it, moving across the globe like insects...50 million suddenly doesn't seem like such a far out number.

It becomes a pandemic.

Of course, if the mortality rate is *extremely* high then it may just burn out - infect quite a few people but they die so quickly they dont get the chance to spread it.

Some could be immune.

The experimental vaccine could work. Yugoslavia once had an outbreak of smallpox (the final outbreak of smallpox) - they declared martial law, locked down everyone in Yugoslavia and innoculated the entire population. If the same were done in a nation that experienced an outbreak, if they did it quickly, it could be stopped in its tracks. Sure, the experimental treatment may not work, but in my opinion it would be far better to take the chance than to lag behind.

It might not develop into SuperFlu(tm) at all - it could mutate but not become superinfectious.

Maybe what we should stop doing is raising billions of chickens for slaughter to be consumed
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#10 Old 03-02-2005, 06:03 PM
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Actually, I haven't seen the Avian Flu linked to agriculture at all.

We discussed it the other day and it looks like its a real threat, not something that just made up. Now I'm ready to freak out everytime I cough, get a sore throat, or feel feverish...OMG! What if its the BIRD FLU?!?!

Seriously, I'm like, obsessed with it.
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#11 Old 03-04-2005, 11:14 AM
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I think it is great the animals are becoming sick and ill.You cannot slaughter Billions upon Billions of sad,ill, falling apart animals and not expect something to occur.They have been overbred,fed disgusting food and thier health and welfare have been ignored.It sucks that it will be air-borne,but it is just the next step after infected flesh..

I am not sick of it,I hope it really knocks into peoples heads~what are we doing eating this flesh?

When I first heard of mad-cow disease,I stopped eating beef right away..then the bird flu came.I went vegetarian a month later.The illnesses were in the back of my mind all the time.It was all part of the factors that changed my thinking.

Who is going to feed thier child beef and chicken now?

As a responsible parent~it wont be acceptable to do that anymore IMO.
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#12 Old 03-04-2005, 11:27 AM
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I'm surprised that an organization like PETA has pointed out that this all started from factory farming in Asia.

It is mad cow with wings.

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