Public health authorities are alarmed by a strain of H5N1, also known as the virus of the bird flu, which has firs affected the birds across Asia and Russia. It also has infected more than 100 humans in the past 18 months, killing about half of them. Scientists fear that the virus could begin to spread between humans and so this will unleash a global pandemic.
At the annual regional meeting of the World Health Organization in Auckland, New Zealand, among other top items presented, it is expected to be discussed the H5N1 strain of bird flu.
The spokesman of WHO declared that even though the cold months in Asia might reduce the damage produced by the disease, the risk factors will remain the same.
Richard Nesbit, the acting regional director for the Western Pacific of WHO sustained that the pandemic risk is still present because the virus is highly embedded in the environment. Besides the continuous outbreaks in poultry in Indonesia, now there have appeared new cases in Cambodia and Thailand too.
By this moment all the cases when humans were taken ill appeared due to a close contact with infected poultry, but some special cases, like the one when a whole family (seven members) died because the members spread the disease to one another, have warned the scientists about the possibility that the disease could mutate and then transmit easier between humans, leading to a global pandemic.
Richard Nesbit said that there is hope that we will gain control over the disease, and gave as example the case of Vietnam that had 42 people deceased of bird flu (this situating the country in the chart of victims on the second place after Indonesia with 49 dead people), and after the government’s campaign regarding a mass vaccination of poultry there were not recorded any new fatalities.
Nesbit also affirmed that it is very important for people to be prepared, not taken by surprise, and not to forget what had happened, even though there have past three years of bird flu presence, because the risk is still present.
Even though the media and the public got tired of hearing the same old thing about a possible global pandemic, it is the scientist’s and government’s responsibility to continue informing everyone about the evolution of the virus and of the possible risks related to it.