In the U.S., many of us are still trying to get our yearlyflu shots. There was an earlier shortage of vaccine, but nowthere should be plenty to go around and you don’t need to beelderly or infirm in order to get a flu shot. In Asia,patients are coping with something much more lethal: birdflu. Researchers don’t think it’s just spreading from birdsto humans anymore?they’re worried that we can catch it fromother people. That means it will inevitably end up here.

Jo Revill writes in The (U.K.) Observer that a teenaged girlwho died in Vietnam has become the 11th bird flu victimthere in a month. Her mother died from bird flu the weekbefore. WHO wants to know whether or not they shouldclassify bird flu as a “pandemic,” and that depends on howit is transmitted.

The first confirmed case of bird flu being spread betweenpeople occurred in Thailand recently, when a woman caught itfrom her daughter.

In 2004, bird flu spread to 10 Asian countries, forcing theslaughter of more than 100 million birds, but noperson-to-person cases were found. Singapore plans to killthe two million chickens in local poultry farms if a singlecase is detected.

But it may be too late. British bird flu expert John Oxfordthinks the virus has broken down the “final door” whichprevented it being spread between people. Until the late1990s, no one thought the virus strain, called H5N1, couldspread to humans. The flu drug Tamiflu acts as apreventative, if taken in time.

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Maybe we need to take somewhitepowdered gold.

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