Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The birds are out to get us

Some may laugh (yes, that means you Bill C ), but the fact is, the birds are out to get us:

Vietnam has reported four new cases of human avian influenza, including those of a 21-year-old man and his 14-year-old sister, the World Health Organization said yesterday. The health agency said that the man died but that it did not know the status of his sister and the two other people affected. All four became ill in early or mid-February. Vietnamese officials also are trying to determine whether a 26-year-old nurse admitted to a hospital in Hanoi last week developed avian influenza. Bloomberg News reported that a W.H.O. official said the nurse tested positive for influenza A(H5N1), which has killed hundreds of thousands of birds and at least 44 people in Southeast Asia in recent months. *** The possible case of the nurse in Hanoi takes on particular potential importance because of his occupation. Bloomberg News reported that he carried a 21-year-old avian influenza patient on a stretcher and provided direct care at a hospital. If tests identify the A(H5N1) strain as the cause of his illness, and other sources of exposure are ruled out, he could become the first health worker to have contracted avian influenza. An overwhelming majority of human bird flu cases are believed to have been caused by contact with sick poultry, and Vietnamese epidemiologists are trying to determine whether the nurse was exposed to infected birds. The new cases bring to at least 42 the number of human cases of A(H5N1) avian influenza that Vietnam has reported to the W.H.O. Of those, at least 31 have been fatal. Thailand has reported 17 human cases of avian influenza, of which 12 were fatal. Cambodia has reported one fatal case.
Some of the futures we're facing are very exciting (e.g., Democracy in the Middle East), but some I'd prefer just remain hypothetical (e.g., a global bird flu pandemic).