HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Bird Flu

I don't know if you have been following the many stories (see here, here, here and here) about the Bird Flu, but it does appear that the it is still around and spreading, and thus should be something that we all learn about quite soon.  Some are predicting that if it becomes highly contagious in humans, the resulting epidemic would be worse than SARS. Radio Free Europe reports on a World Health Organization (WHO) conference: 

UN officials are warning that the bird-flu outbreak in Asia poses the "gravest possible danger" of becoming a global human threat.  At a conference under way in Ho Chi Minh City chaired by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization, the current situation of the virus is being assessed -- and many experts say the bird-flu virus has become more complex and could develop into a human virus.

WHO's Western Pacific regional director, Shigeru Omi, raised concerns. "It is now being found in animals such as cats and tigers, that were not previously considered susceptible to influenza A viruses," Omi told Reuters. "Not only that, it is more pathogenic than the strain found in Hong Kong in 1997. This suggests that the virus is evolving in ways that increasingly favor the start of a pandemic."

"The important thing for all of us is that if the [avian flu] virus becomes highly contagious among humans, the health impact in terms of deaths and sickness will be enormous, and certainly much greater than SARS."

For background information on the Bird Flu, see the attached CDC link and World Health Organization link. [bm]

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