Monday, February 26, 2007

Boring old bird flu

…Bird flu had its 15 minutes a while back and everyone yelled, “Check, please,” and it was over with.

…Oh, but we are fickle and foolish.

…The dreaded H5N1 virus is on farms circling Moscow, it’s marching across Asia, has nipped into Africa, and is still amongst us. So far, however, it is not being passed person to person.

…According to a story in the NYT by Donald G McNeil, Jr (February 15, 2007), this thing is still as dangerous and unpredictable as ever.

…Avian flu isn’t killing a lot of people compared with AIDS or something, but it killed more in 2006 than in the previous years. Fatality rates are up, too—61%. (This could, weirdly, be good news because it may kill people before they can pass it on.)

…One doc told the Times that when virologists go to a meeting and let their hair down, after four beers, they admit they are humbled by this virus.

…In other words, it could still kick our collective asses.

…For some reason, scientists in this story riffed off on the Chinese year system. We survived the Year of the Chicken and Year of the Dog, one said, but will we survive the Year of the Pig (that would be this year).

…HA thinks this question might have been raised after that fourth beer, but moving along…

…The virus, they say (soberingly), is out of control in poultry in Indonesia, Nigeria, and Egypt. Rumor has it—China too is affected.

…Still poultry is still on sale in open markets in Nigeria, and 80% of Indonesian households keep chickens.

…Still, there is a glimmer of good news—fewer migrating birds are toting this thing around.

…Scientists also say it would be pretty sucky (well-known science word) if people with regular old horrible flu also got this—they can mix.

…HA says this is cause for a flu shot—and another beer.

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