Bird Flu Alarm



Understanding Avian Influenza

Is Bird Flu a major concern to humans?


There is not yet a definitive vaccine but prototypes which offer protection against the H5N1 strain are being produced. A large outbreak of bird flu is the real fear. Experts believe that the virus could exchange genes with a human flu virus if a person was simultaneously infected with both. The drug Tamiflu reduces the severity of flu symptoms and can also mean the length of illness is shortened. Worldwide experts predict anything between 2m and 50m deaths if there was a large outbreak of bird flu. The UK government has purchased around 14.6 million courses of the antiviral drug Tamiflu - enough to treat around a quarter of the UKs population. Once the virus gained the ability to pass easily between humans the results could be catastrophic. UK ministers have arranged for 2-3m doses of H5N1 vaccine which could offer some protection against the virus. Experts say avian flu is not a food-borne virus so eating chicken is safe. The Health Protection Agency estimates that if a flu outbreak did reach the UK around a quarter of the population could be affected with possibly 50000 deaths.

Understanding Avian Influenza