Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The bird flu's human transmission problem

This is an addition to the post below, where I mentioned some of the science behind human to human bird flu transmission without a link. Here is the pertinent information.

Both reports found the H5N1 virus prefers to settle in cells deep within the lungs, rather than in the upper respiratory tract, as happens with human flu strains.

That's important because "most of the coughing and sneezing that transmits flu is going to be from the upper respiratory tract, and not way down in the lower respiratory tract," explained Dr. Arnold S. Monto, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. "So, unless you have relatively close contact, you're not going to have much [bird flu] virus get out."

Given the facts of the story below, I'd say that we are not yet on the precipice of pandemic. I still believe that if the bird flu ever does become easily passed from human to human, the change will occur somewhere like Indonesia, but the case everyone is discussing right is not an example of the mutation needed.

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