As said and debated, the new flu strain is quite similar to most strains of the famed flu virus that is spread from person to person right after it jumps species from the zero host animal, first we had avian flu then swine, both of which jumped the species barrier which normally prevented cross species jumps. This trait of the new strains alarmed scientists for never in history has such cases occurred in modern times.
The Avian Flu is almost on the treatable stage but with the coming of the new strain, a more general vaccine may be needed to handle all of the flu strains, for the new strain is a combination of H5N1, H1N1 and the human flu virus which has the ability to mutate. Another alarming trait of the virus is that a case of reverse infection has already been found in New Zealand, a case of a human host getting a swine sick with the flu. The cross contamination of the virus is the bad thing. Flu can be weathered out with proper treatment and monitoring but for a strain that can come and go as it pleases, it truly is an alarming development.
With the convenience of modern travel, planes flying off to distant countries in a few hours, the new scourge of flu more commonly referred to as the “Swine Flu” has reached full spread with cases reported in almost all corners of the world. Mexico is ground zero and from its famous beaches, whole flights have been infected taking the virus all over the globe. From New Zealand, Australia, China and many other continents the virus has spread with some deaths reported. The severity of the cases have been quite blown out of proportion, maybe a result of the H5N1 strain which scared the hell out of everyone but as with any flu strain simple precautions go along way to help protect people from the spread of the disease.
Influenza has become a common illness among humans that its occurrence is no longer a threat. However, viruses have the ability to mutate, some becoming more dangerous. Today’s population may not believe it, but looking at history, flu outbreaks have actually taken more lives than you could have imagined. Check this out:
1918 to 1919 Spanish flu pandemic, also remembered as the Black Death or the plague.
Exact numbers for this pandemic are hard to establish, and different sources offer different numbers, but in the same general range. Estimates suggest that between 20% and 50% of the entire world’s population was infected, and as many as 50 million people died.
It was noted that most at risk of the disease were the healthy group aged 15 to 40. Normally, that age group are more resistant to viral infections. Since the virus is air borne, human to human transfer happened fast and easy, that in some areas, people wore masks and even hand shaking was banned.
These days all one seems to hear in India is “Bird Flu”. The disease which has taken a major part of India in its grip, has not only severly affected the poultry industry of the nation but also it has sent panic bells ringing across the states – from Delhi in the North to Tamil Nadu in the South, to West Bengal in the East, the latter being worst affected. Even the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the current outbreak of Bird Flu in India as the worst case reported till date.
In the affected areas, chickens are being culled at a rapid pace, but still the disease is spreading its wings from one district to the other, from one state to another. One primary reason for the rapid spread of Bird Flu is the lack of awareness about the virus which causes the disease. Almost everyone knows that the disease is lethal, but not many know what causes it, how it spreads, and how it can be prevented.
Wash vegetables and fruits thoroughly, as poultry manure is a common fertilizer. Thoroughly cook poultry meat, up to 82 degrees Celcius (180 degree Fahrenheit) for 5 to 10 minutes. Also avoid sharing utensils, or using “underwashed” utensil in public food courts or canteens.
Your area’s water supply might also be infected if a bird dropping contaminates the water reservoir. Consult with the water supply company on their safety and purifying measures to make sure the water is clean enough for human consumption.
Wearing respiratory masks may look too paranoid, but once another “outbreak” is announced, masks will be a great protection.
The scare brought about by the new and rising threat from the new and improved H1N1 Swine Flu Virus has scientists clamoring for an immediate cure with the H5N1 still fresh on their minds. The H1N1 strain is still part of the flu family but with a very dangerous twist, it is a combination of the H1N1(swine), H5N1(Avian) and the Human Flu virus that like the other strains is transmittable and can be transmitted from species to species. From animal species it jumps easily to humans and that cross-species jumping trait is a very dangerous combination.