Bird flu expert Robert G. Webster is attempting to answer the question we’re all asking: Will bird flu change from being a dangerous disease of birds (and the people who care for them) to being a disease that humans pass from one to another?
Webster, who works at the St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, is the scientist who discovered the link between human flu and bird flu (H5N1), which is now only present in birds. At the moment, it can be transmitted to humans only through the droppings of infected birds, which is the reason that Asian children and women have been contracting the disease, since they live in countries where it is traditionally their job to take care of the family?s poultry.
On the ABC news website, Jim Avila and Meredith Ramsey interview Webster, who is concerned that, because viruses mutate (which is why there is a new flu vaccine every year), the bird flu virus will change to a new and dangerous human version. Webster himself keeps a three month supply of food and water in his home, in case of a quarantine. He says, “Society just can’t accept the idea that 50% of the population could die [but] I think we have to face that possibility.”
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