2006-01-13-Bird flu confab faces global pandemic fearUnderstanding Avian Influenza
2006-01-13-Bird flu confab faces global pandemic fear
Steps sought to contain deadly strain
International talks jointly hosted by Japan and the World Health Organization opened Thursday in Tokyo to discuss how to contain a possible global pandemic sparked by the spread of bird flu among humans.
The two-day gathering of delegates from more than 30 nations mainly in Asia and international organizations comes at a time when concerns are mounting that the H5N1 strain of avian influenza, which has been spreading throughout Asia and has recently cropped up in Turkey, could change into a form that could pass easily among humans and potentially kill millions of people.
The delegates are expected to discuss and recommend regional and international response mechanisms such as an early warning detection system for a pandemic and operational support for early response efforts in Asia, organizers said.
"Rapid containment would include the use of antivirals to snuff out the spread of the virus, plus possible public health measures such as quarantine, restrictions on human movement and social distancing," a WHO media advisory said.
The event is part of an international initiative aimed at increasing global collaboration and coordination before a pandemic strikes.
Bird flu has killed more than 70 people since late 2003. While most of the deaths were in Asia, at least two recently occurred in Turkey.
Flu train simulation
A simulation by researchers on a new type of influenza showed Wednesday that such a disease would spread dramatically via crowded trains.
Results of the simulation were released by a research group led by Kazuyuki Aihara, a University of Tokyo professor specializing in mathematical engineering.
According to the simulation, in a city with a population of 800,000, the number of flu patients would peak in about 50 days after the infection of the first person under usual circumstances.
However, when crowded trains are factored in, the number of flu patients can peak 20 to 40 days earlier and increase victims overall by about 10 percentage points.