Bird flu reaches the US

…but it’s not the deadly strain of avian influenza (high-pathogenicity avian influenza, HPAI H5N1) that has featured in endless media speculation over the last couple of years. At a time, when the Thai authorities have announced several new cases of bird flu in their country, scientists in the US have detected the low-pathogenicity (LPAI) bird flu in wild swans near the banks of Lake Erie.

Ron DeHaven, administrator of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, told the Associated Press that “We do not believe this virus represents a risk to human health.” Preliminary testing showed the presence of the H5 and the N1 sub-types in the infected Michigan birds, but the USDA explains that these are more probably present because of LPAI, which is also known as American H5N1, as opposed to Asian H5N1.

Evidence of this putative low pathogenicity avian influenza (LPAI) has been found on two occasions in wild birds in the United States. In 1975 and 1986, it was detected in wild ducks. These detections occurred as part of routine sampling. LPAI H5N1 has also been detected in Canada, most recently in 2005.

Asian H5N1 has killed at least 140 people but is yet to mutate into a form that is readily transmissable between humans. Indeed, it seems the only likely way you catch this strain is through very close proximity to infected birds (i.e. sharing living quarters) or by coming into contact with feces from an infected bird.

More on the Michigan bird flu story…

4 thoughts on “Bird flu reaches the US”

  1. That’s a fair comment Charmagick. I certainly wouldn’t expect Bush and his team to bail you guys out and the recent air transport fiasco in the UK doesn’t engender one with much trust in Blair’s crones on this side of the Pond either!

    Meanwhile, I saw a book on how to get prepared for bird flu that echoes your advice about backpacking food and water etc:

    This is the bird flu book. If any reader buys it, please let me know how they get on with it.

  2. Well, whatever you folks want to argue about, I’m still getting ready for whatever comes. I want to be as comfortable as possible if I’m quarantined. I’m a nurse, not a virologist, and even the virologists don’t agree. The US is so dependent upon outside sources for its supplies, I’ve bought water, backpacking food and stocked up on soaps, medicines, cash, etc. I live in an earthquake zone, so it can all double for that. After seeing the Katrina episode, I’m not going to depend upon the government to bail me out.

  3. But…this strain isn’t the same as H5N1 proper that I cite as having killed approximately 140 people.

    I’m not denying there’s a threat. But, the strain that has been detected at Lake Erie is old hat, it’s not Asian bird flu and is not the threat the scaremongers are doubtless claiming.

    Sad though all those deaths are, they are not down to an H2H transmissable form of a virulent H5N1 mutant.

    More to the point, H5N1 mutating into an H2H strain may actually lead to a less fatal form of the virus.

    Compare all this hype with the actual death rates from “conventional” human influenza each year (thousands as opposed to tens) and it does make one wonder why this single strain has been singled out…

    I don’t doubt that a viral epidemic will hit us at some point on a global scale, but it isn’t necessarily going to be H5N1 and it isn’t even certain that it will be an influenza virus that strikes at all.

  4. I see that you start your post with “…but it’s not the deadly strain of avian influenza”

    Sorry to have to burst your bubble, but the Bird Flu virus is VERY REAL and is currently growing at more than twice of the rate of the last year.

    There have been 141 deaths related to the Bird Flu virus to date, that we know of.

    The last 3 human fatalities resulting from the Bird Flu virus, were announced last week!

    We expect more such announcements shortly.

    I hope that the powers that be, are taking this global threat to us seriously enough, to try and prepare for the worst case scenario.

    I would recommend that you look up some serious and focused sources of news, regarding the bird flu virus.

    We have today added the “Bird flu reaches the US” entry of your blog, to The-Best-Bird-Flu-Blogs section of our site, in order to be able to provide a balance against those with an opposing view.


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