Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bird Flu Back in Britain

Earlier this year I noted the step-down in bird flu mania. Now, as the real heart of flu season approaches there is this news out of the U.K.:

Redgrave Park Farm in Suffolk is locked up and isolated after tests on turkeys found to have avian flu have confirmed the H5N1 strain. The highly pathogenic strain of the virus, the same as that found across Asia, was confirmed by government vets. All 6,500 birds are being slaughtered and a 3km protection zone and a 10km surveillance zone have been set up. (BBC)

This outbreak is particularly devastating to farmers coming as close as it does to the holiday season.

Luckily, human-to-human transmission remains an insurmountable barrier to this deadly pathogen. If and until such transmissions start happening, a killer bird flu pandemic is merely a hypothetical possibility. There has yet to be a confirmed case of H5N1 in the Western Hemisphere. But the progressive West-ward spread of H5N1, as illustrated by this interactive map, gives avian flu boundless new opportunities to mutate. Should the mutation occur, the nightmare scenario which garnered so much attention in 2005, could yet come to pass.

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