Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Ignore It...

....avian flu is making a comeback:
Dec. 25 - A 15-year-old girl is the second person to die in a bird flu outbreak in northern Egypt.

The girl was admitted to a hospital on Dec. 20 after being diagnosed with the disease, the official Middle East News Agency quoted an Egyptian Health Ministry statement as saying.
It had been so quiet on the avian flu front that many people had basically chalked it up as yet another health scare that went bust.

Trouble is, pandemics are like terrorists: they can lie in wait until an appropriate time, and catch a people off-guard.

Africa has joined Asia as a "ground zero" spot for avian flu outbreaks, specifically Nigeria and now Egypt, which along with these two reported deaths has a third confirmed case. Vietnam has once more announced a wholesale slaughter of domestic birds, while South Korea announced a fourth confirmed case in December alone.

Europe is starting to see signs of an outbreak, as Moscow closed its zoo after two geese were found dead, and in France, 4,000 chickens were found dead, although avian flu is not suspected, it is being tested for, all in the wake of an announcement that France's foie gras industry had a record year.

What's most scary about the African hot spot is the population densities of the affected areas, Egypt and Lagos, Nigeria, are far greater than the sparse rural areas affected in Asia. Influenza "A" type viruses are very aggressive, highly infectious and infectious days longer than the mammalian type "B" viruses.

And flu season is just getting underway.