11 January 2006

Maybe Bird Flu Ain't That Serious

A bit of cheerful news for the day:

      Jan 11, 2006
      Human bird flu cases may be more common than reported
      But the infections were mild, suggests a study by Swedish and Vietnamese researchers

      WASHINGTON - HUMAN cases of bird flu may be both more common but less lethal than has been reported, say Swedish and Vietnamese researchers.

      A new study suggests that thousands of mild human cases of the H5N1 avian influenza have occurred throughout the two-year outbreak in Vietnam - the epicentre of the bird flu problem.

      Experts said the study provides a strong counterpoint to growing fears about the infectiousness of avian influenza. Indeed, the virus can be so mild in some people that they easily shake the infection without medical attention.

      Dr Anna Thorson of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, who led the study, said that the study, which did not take blood samples from its subjects, cannot prove these people were infected with bird flu. But it suggests that infections may be going undetected.

      'The verified human cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Vietnam may represent only a selection of the most severely ill patients,' her team wrote in their report, published in the Archives Of Internal Medicine.

      H5N1 has killed at least 76 people since 2003 and experts fear it could acquire the ability to pass easily from person to person, sparking a pandemic that could kill millions.

      The team decided to gather evidence that avian flu may have been circulating undetected in Vietnam.

      The Swedish researchers interviewed nearly 46,000 people from Vietnam, where there have been 87 cases of bird flu. They found that more than 8,000 had had flu-like symptoms and up to 750 cases could have been due to sick birds.

      Dr Thorson said the study - the largest one carried out on bird flu to date - suggests that the strain does not kill half of people infected with it...
Last year I started investing into a healthcare fund as a partial hedge against bird flu (yes, a healthcare fund with exposure to Roche, the manufacturer of Tamiflu). Healthcare stocks can also serve as a good diversifier and are defensive in nature, and I think my overall portfolio needed that anyway.

On a separate note, here's a good, simple article addressing the FAQs about bird flu.

"The greatest risk we face from bird flu is ... getting culled."

2 comments:

'Thought & Humor' said...

.
There is a time for everything,
a season for every activity
under heaven. A time to be
born and a time to die. A
time to plant and a time to
harvest. A time to kill and
a time to heal. A time to
tear down and a time to
rebuild. A time to cry and
a time to laugh. A time to
grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones
and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a
time to turn away. A time to
search and a time to lose.
A time to keep and a time to
throw away. A time to tear
and a time to mend. A time
to be quiet and a time to
speak up. A time to love
and a time to hate. A time
for war and a time for peace.

May this be
your time to laugh,
embrace & receive
personal peace,
Dr. Howdy

Corporate Manwhore said...

Tammiflu actually does'nt prevent bird flu...

Why mass immunization is done is to prevent the nightmare scenario of someone getting infected with both the common flu and bird flu, and the virus swapping bits of DNA and resulting in a hybrid virus that is fatal and spreads easily from human to human.

H5N1 at the moment is just fatal, but the transmission from human to human is yet unheard of. Even bird to human transmission is not as easy it is reported in the papers.

Cheers,
Corporate Manwhore