Source Pravda.Ru

Bird Flu in Hong Kong

Two people have died and two were interned in hospital as bird flu appeared again in Hong Kong. Two laboratories confirmed the cases on Wednesday. UN officials from the World Influenza Surveillance Network have travelled to Hong Kong to help the local authorities to combat the disease.

A nine-year-old boy felt the first symptoms of the disease on 9th February and was admitted to hospital on 12th. After treatment, he is recovering and his condition is stable. His mother has recovered, his father and sister have died, although the World Health Organization has yet to confirm that the deaths were caused by the virus.

Bird Flu is a deadly form of the influenza virus, identified as the A (H5N1) strain. It first appeared in Hong Kong in 1997, causing 6 deaths among 18 patients, having migrated to humans from chickens. The first alarm signs were given by those who predicted that sooner or later, a flu pandemic (a disease with a higher than normal infection rate on more than one continent at the same time) would appear.

In the winter of 1918-1919, an estimated 20 to 40 million people died of Spanish flu, which caused 2 billion infections around the world. This was the worst ever visitation of a pandemic on the world, killing more people than the Black Death in the 14th Century.

Nowadays there are medical solutions which were not available at the beginning of the 20th Century, for instance, Amantadine and antibiotics to stave off infections. However, Bird Flu is another awesome contender for the Monster of the Century Prize. In his article “Why Hing Kong’s Bird Flu signals a serious threat”, Robin Henig writes: “What makes it so worrisome is that the virus responsible for the Hong Kong deaths and chicken slaughter contains a unique combination of proteins on its outer shell that renders it unrecognisable to the human immune system -- and therefore able to wreak its havoc before the body, even a previously young and healthy body, knows what hit it”. It is precisely this that caused so many deaths in the pandemic of Spanish flu.

Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru

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