Scientists are still divided about whether or not there is an avian flu pandemic in our future. Computer models predict a rapid spread akin to the 1918 pandemic that killed millions of people worldwide, but that's only IF the virus mutates so that it becomes transmittable from human to human and IF researchers cannot invent a vaccine to protect against it or develop new medicines to treat it in time. Also, doctors don't know if it will affect only weak, elderly and immune-compromised individuals?or everyone.
In New Scientist, Debora MacKenzie reports on an article in the journal Nature, which says that two groups of researchers, working separately in the US and the UK, have both come to the conclusion that we desperately need a vaccine and large stocks of anti-virus drugs, like Tamiflu.
Their computer modeling shows that if most people are treated with drugs the day after symptoms appear, and if schools are closed as soon as a case appears (and families with flu patients in them are quarantined), the pandemic will be slowed down considerably. When this happens AND at least one-fifth of the population has been vaccinated, bird flu cases fall by 90%. They expect avian flu to act like ordinary flu, in that about 33% of infected people don't develop any symptoms and so unknowingly transmit the disease to others.
Remember: the best protection against ANY flu virus is to wash your hands. Gargling with plain water helps too!
Art credit: freeimages.co.uk
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Right now the language of the birds seems to be an ominous warning about avian flu, but William Henry says it is the original language that humans spoke--and so does Dreamland guest Starfire Tor. Stay tuned to Dreamland: we have some truly wonderful coming up for you, along with extraordinary interviews and talks by Whitley, just for subscribers.
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