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Tuesday, October 11, 2005We're in deep bird poo...
For the past year we’ve been hearing a lot in the media about the Bird Flu and the possibility of a pandemic. I really haven’t been focusing on it too much but tonight as I watched the evening news it just hit me… “damn we’re in some deep bird poo.” Health experts are afraid that the H5N1 strain of bird flu, which has already killed at least 65 people, could develop into a deadly pandemic and kill millions of people worldwide. I was watching Robert Bazell interview Dr. Rob Webster of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Dr. Webster first discovered that human flu is related to bird flu in 1957, but no one paid him any mind.
From The NBC interview: Webster's ideas got a lot of attention when bird flu first infected humans in Hong Kong in 1997. On his advice, the government there killed all the chickens and stopped the outbreak. But since then, Webster has identified the virus in migrating birds."And the virus that's in the migrating birds has got a characteristic that we associate with the ability to transfer and kill humans," says Webster. "So far, we have been fortunate. The virus hasn't got the characteristic of transmitting from me to you.
Could that be happening right now?" It could happen," he insists. "It could be one mutation."
"This virus spreads outside the lungs to the central nervous system," he says. "The animal gets hind-leg paralysis and dies. This is the first influenza virus we've seen that does this in a mammal."
A vaccine developed in Webster's lab is undergoing initial tests in people today, but difficulties in manufacturing flu vaccine means it is still years away.It's a crying shame," admits Webster.
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