News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: UN Predicts US Bird Flu in Six Months; Human Form "Any Time"

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

UN Predicts US Bird Flu in Six Months; Human Form "Any Time"

The UN's chief virus expert is predicting that the Bird Flu will arrive in the US in six months and that the human form is imminent. ...

According to Bloomberg:

Avian flu is likely to spread to birds in the U.S. within six months and could produce an epidemic among humans ``at any time,'' said the United Nations official who monitors global efforts to fight the disease. [my emphasis]

David Nabarro told reporters in New York today that wild birds migrating over the Arctic Circle from Africa and Europe this spring would carry the H5N1 virus to Alaska, and that avian flu would probably reach America's lower 48 states six months later. This is the first time a top global health official has predicted when birds carrying the flu will arrive in the U.S.

``Every country in the world now needs to have its veterinary services on high alert for H5N1 to be sure they are not caught unawares,'' said Nabarro, a physician with the World Health Organization who is senior UN system coordinator for Avian and human influenza.
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Anonymous said...

"Could" does not mean "will." I "could" win the lottery, at least in theory ... but it's unlikely.

Right now, the avian flu is fatal to birds. I'm not holding my breath waiting for it to jump the species barrier.

the cynic librarian said...

Could is stronger than might. It has the potential to spread to the US. Actually, the avian form of the flu has killed over 90 people worldwide, spreading from the birds to humans. One must be in direct contact with the birds, though.

There are cases now of the virus that causes this flu already "jumping" from one species to another. Cats in Germany and Austria have the virus, as has a marten. This development worries epidemiologists because it shows that the virus is attempting to mutate into a form conducive to inhabiting mamals and being passed from them directly to other humans.