The headlines around the world
are all predicting the possibility of a global pandemic. As
the notorious avian influenza better know as bird flu makes
it’s way from Asia to the Middle East to Europe to Africa
and forecast to soon hit the Americas, if the dire predictions
come true, some one hundred and forty two million humans could
lose their life. Economically we are looking at US$4.4 trillion
Bird flu currently is only passed between fowl, but with the
recent reports in Europe that the H5N1 virus has now been past
between birds and cats, the possibilities of it mutating and
spreading from human to human is causing anxiety worldwide.
The bird flu was first reported in 1996 in the Guangdong Province
in China. Besides China and southeast Asia, there have been
outbreaks in Turkey, Russia, Greece, Italy, Germany, Austria,
Croatia, Sweden, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Iran and Nigeria. In total
over two hundred million birds have to date been culled as consumption
of chicken in the affected areas has plummeted. And to date,
one hundred people have died.
How real is the fear factor?? The worst known plague to have
hit human populations was the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918-19.
Although the virus first appeared in Asia, it was called the
Spanish flu because the first reports of the outbreak appeared
in the Spanish media. During the global pandemic, one billion
people were affected, an estimated fifty million perished.
The 1918-19 Spanish Flu pandemic struck with amazing speed,
often killing infected people within hours of the first signs
of the infection. The 1918 virus strain was so overwhelming
to the human immune system that the usual cause of death was
a secondary infection of lethal pneumonia. The virus would cause
an uncontrollable hemorrhaging that in turn filled the lungs
with bile fluid causing the victims to literally drown in their
own body fluids. The strain also tended to select those within
the population that were healthy as opposed to those very young
or very old with weakened immune systems
If there is a glimmer of hope, it’s the reality that
the world is a drastically different place than it was in 1918.
With a greater understanding of how to design vaccines and antiviral
drugs to combat such a widespread pandemic, the survival vs.
death rate could be enhanced by quick response. However, places
like Belize and the other developing countries around the globe
these combatants are and would be in short demand.
In closing, I like to be prepared. So I have already purchased
currently the only to choices available to fight the bird flu.
The first is a dose of the antiviral drug Tami flu. I thought
it was a good choice since US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfelt
holds a considerable amount of stock in the company that manufactures
the drug in his financial portfolio. The other item, I bought
surgical masks for very member of my family.