With bird flu dominating the news lately, it has left many people wondering why it is such a concern. An outbreak of a virus in Asia may seem like it would have little impact on our daily lives; yet many people have become obsessed with the disease. Is it possible there may be more than meets the eye with bird flu?
Bird Flu, also known as avian influenza, is not a new virus; it has actually been around since the early 1900s. So why the big scare? A particular strand of the virus, H5N1, has been contracted by several humans, over 100 people, and led to the death of over half of those infected. Since most of the types of this virus only affect birds and some other animals, it was of concern when people started contracting the disease in the first place. Likewise, when so many people died as a result, concern was replaced with apprehension. Now, however, an even larger crisis may be at hand.
With the increase in the spread of the virus, many are worried that a pandemic will start as a result basically a global plague sweeping across the world. Information regarding a pandemic and other contamination issues of bird flu is available in ebook 2 of A Guide to Bird Flu and How to Avoid Catching It. For a pandemic to occur, three things must take place: a new virus must emerge, it causes serious illness in humans, and is easily spread among humans. The first two on this list have already taken place. This strand of the virus is new to humans and it causes very serious illness among those infected. However, because the virus has primarily been passed from birds to humans, and not by human to human contact, the third condition has not yet been fulfilled.
The concern is that, because the virus is infecting humans, it will mutate to the point that human transmission takes place on a wide scale. The more people it infects, the more opportunity it has to mutate. If this should happen, containing the disease will be almost impossible. Also, because there is little available in the way of treatment, many people will die as a result.
Many Americans are not concerned because the outbreaks have only occurred in Asia at this point. However, even in Asia, the virus is spreading rapidly. Also, with international travel so commonplace, once human transmission is possible, the virus will know no bounds, especially not geographically. Much like AIDS, it will devastate the world, consuming people of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds.