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How serious is the threat of an Avian flu Human Pandemic . Avian (Bird) December 2005. Virus Bacteria Infection Mutation. Carrier of infection Resistance to infection Spread of infection Genetic material. Avian Flu . General Background Terms . Avian Flu. Historical Development

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How serious is the threat of an Avian flu Human Pandemic

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avian flu




Carrier of infection

Resistance to infection

Spread of infection

Genetic material

Avian Flu

General Background Terms

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Avian Flu

Historical Development

Influenza Virus (worldwide problem)

Types A-B-C

  • “HN” Classification of virus (lab testing)
    • Hemagglutinin
    • Neuraminidase
  • 1918 “Spanish” Flu (H1N1)
    • Killed 50 million people worldwide
  • 1961 H 5N1 found in wild birds in South Africa
  • 1997 H5N1 found in Hong Kong
  • 2003 Bird Flu re-emergence in South Asia
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Avian Flu

Mechanism of Non-Human Spread

  • Once spread from wild bird population to domestic birds (Chickens): a first serious step has occurred
  • A viral “jump” to more domestic animals (horses, cats, pigs): a second serious step will have occurred
  • This broad “mixing pot” of genetic material; makes the spread to humans more likely from such a pool of replicating gene fragments
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Avian Flu

Isolated Facts

New H5N1 virus comes from mostly avian gene pool (not

mammals) like the H1N1 Spanish flu did (1918)

      • Why has it now become lethal in some humans? Unknown!
  • H5N1 virus remain “alive” in feces, oral droppings, contaminated water for 7-10 days
  • Asian human H5N1 infections are in younger population (17-31yrs)
  • In south Asia, human infection has mostly involved direct, close contact with infected birds (blood, feces, feathers)
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Avian Flu

Isolated Facts Cont’d

  • Current human Influenza A vaccine does not protect against H5N1

Flu; eating “cooked” infected chickens will not cause infection

  • Domestic ducks can carry H5N1 “silently”: so a reservoir for potential carrier of infection
  • Domestic chickens get “infected” from contact with shed droppings from “migratory waterfowl/ducks”

The H5N1 avian flu is 32 times more infective than SARS Virus (2003)

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Avian Flu

Human Pandemic Requires:

  • Highly virulent organism
  • Lack of sufficient human immunity
  • Easy spread from human to human

This is currently absent

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Avian Flu

Potential Catastrophic Change

H 5 N1 Virus Invades Human Cell


Organ Damage Invades Other Cells





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Avian Flu

Human Diagnosis

  • Spot testing
  • Local Labs
  • Reference Labs (CDC)
  • Physicians/Hospitals
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High fever

Chest pain


Weakness, muscle aches

Easy bleeding





Kidney failure

Avian Flu

Human signs and Symptoms

Currently in East Asia : mortality 50 %

(n=150 cases)

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Avian Flu

Current Spread of Avian Disease (Asia to Europe)

North to Mongolia/Siberia

East Asia

West to Ukraine, Croatia,


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Avian Flu



  • China may be Ground Zero (1st line of defense)
    • 1.3 billion people
    • 13 billion birds
    • 75% of population live on farms
    • Medical system weak
  • Prophylaxis (For Chickens)
    • Twice a year vaccines
  • Bird Flu Outbreak
    • Authorities kill hundreds of thousands of birds
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Avian Flu

Human Treatment


  • World health Organization (WHO)
    • 21 days to “control”
  • Before disease affects 20-30 people
  • Hard for doctor to diagnosis quickly/implement isolation
  • Area may be as large as a city
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Avian Flu

Human Treatment

  • Vaccine
    • Available for bird now
    • In development for human
    • Problems with application
      • New mutation may limit effectiveness
  • Antivirals
    • Tamiflu (oral)
    • Relenza (inhalation)
    • Problems with application of these meds
      • Not thoroughly tested
      • Resistance occurs
      • Stockpilling can be disruptive
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Avian Flu

Possible Global Threat (Worst case scenario)

  • Estimate 150 million human deaths worldwide
  • Estimate economic cost : 800 billion dollars
  • Theoretical terrorist operation:

steal deadly viral genome

harvest “live” virus in lab

deliver as aerosol to unsuspecting populace

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Avian Flu


  • Far-reaching spread of deadly virus to USA (Unlikely)
  • Danger ofH5N1reaching USA is real
  • Interconnected world (infection carriers)

Wild birds (could first reach Alaska & Canada)

Human travelers (a flight away)

No intervention has been successful stopping a pandemic once it starts

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Avian Flu


  • Surveillance, global cooperation, vaccination, antiviral agents,quarantine, infected chicken elimination will prevent epidemic spread in USA
  • Gene Mutation and Viral human to human spread is random and cannot be controlled


viral illnesses are a stark reality we have to fight