Saturday, June 24, 2006

Human to human bird flu transmission: Non-story

Yesterday the world health organization announced that a case of the bird flu that had spread amongst an Indonesian family was spread human to human, the first known case of such a transmission. They even tossed in mention of a mutation which will serve to terrify news skimmers, even though the mutation was normal and small, and had no bearing on the ability of the virus to pass between humans.

If I've said it once, I'll say it a hundred more times. This is a non-story. The bird flu has always been transmissable between people. It is just very difficult because it requires close, prolonged contact with the virus and its host. This case fit that bill. It changes nothing when it comes to the threat level of this virus, though. If I were at an airport and I had a brief contact with someone who was coming down with the bird flu, I still would not catch it, unlike the regular flu where I'd have a chance of catching it. The only thing noteworthy about this story is that doctors have documented a case of a type of transmission that they new was possible all along.

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