(PRWEB) March 8, 2006
Scientists have now verified through gene sequencing that the H5N1 virus has been rapidly mutating and evolving towards a strain that will be deadly for humans. Six months ago scientists estimated that the H5N1 virus needed to make about five changes to it’s gene structure for it to be deadly for humans. Now it requires only one last change.
The present strains of avian influenza (bird flu) are mainly infecting only birds, with only a relatively small number of humans being infected. The reason for the drastic preparations now being made by most countries in the world to protect themselves from this virus is that the H5N1 virus still has a very high mortality rate. It can kill up to 100% of domestic chickens and at present can kill an alarming 55% of people that become infected. If a pandemic occurs from a virus with even one quarter of this mortality rate then the world consequences will be horrendous.
From the World Health Organization statistics only 190 people have been infected since 2003 with the H5N1 virus and of these 92 have died. Most of these people had some direct contact with infected chickens of some kind. Some inefficient human to human transmission has also occurred in some cases.
It appears that it is inevitable that a bird flu pandemic will eventually occur. Some scientists expect that the last genetic change needed for efficient human to human transmission by the H5N1 virus may occur when migrating birds carrying the H5N1 virus begin their return journey in Spring. (Northern hemisphere). This means that there is a possibility that a pandemic could occur within two months.
The H5N1 bird flu virus has now spread to at least 40 countries around the world. The general unhygienic practices combined with poorly developed health systems in some of these countries will create many opportunities for the last genetic change needed for the H5N1 virus to spread from humans to humans as easily as the common cold. It is likely that this change could occur several times in different countries. If it occurs in an underdeveloped country then there will be little chance of detecting it or stopping it from spreading worldwide.
It is estimated that when the H5N1 virus changes to an efficient human to human strain that it would only take three weeks for human H5N1 virus outbreaks to occur everywhere around the world. Computer models from the Los Alamos laboratory predict that it will only take another three to six weeks for the pandemic to spread completely through a country and reach it’s peak infection rate. This rapid rate of spreading infection will be due to the international and domestic plane transport system. Since H5N1 has an incubation period of two to ten days then it will be impossible to screen infected but still contagious passengers. Depending on the country it originates in, a contagious and deadly H5N1 virus could be seeded around the world before health authorities are aware that a pandemic has started. The World Health Organization has stated that all health systems in every country will be overwhelmed and infected people will have to be cared for at home.
Apart from the direct consequences of large numbers of infected people dying, a potentially worst catastrophe will also occur. Recent surveys have shown that only 30% to 50 % of workers would show up for work if a pandemic occurred. Combined this with 50% of willing workers being infected and others being quarantined then the workforce will be seriously deleted.
It would be very prudent to expect essential supplies and services of any kind will be in very short supply throughout the main wave of the pandemic. This may occur throughout the whole world at the same time. If you think about the possible nightmare consequences of this then you will realize the importance of stocking up your own personal supplies now. Panic buying will ensure that no stocks will be available when the pandemic begins. There is a series of important items to help protect you from the virus which can be found at http://www.bird-flu-influenza.com.
Us officials are now going state to start telling communities to prepare for a six week quarantine. Ontario is bringing in legislation to fine absentee qualified health workers $100,000 and one jail for each day absent. Australian local councils are all attending government sponsored bird flu workshops. These isolated government actions suggests something may be happening soon.
Information from governments to the public is being suppressed and downplayed to prevent panic. The Australian government will not release information to the public on how to prepare for a pandemic and look after infected family members until a pandemic starts. By then it will be too late to buy stocks and understand what to do. This is not a normal flu.
By Stephen Jones
Biologist and Author of the Bird Flu Survival Guide (http://www.bird-flu-influenza.com)