The wworld health experts and bio labs across the globe have been saying that it is not a matter of if but when a pandemic strikes. The avian variant
is thought to have been the source of the deadly 1918 Spanish flu outbreak which killed millions, worldwide. H5N1 is also an avian strain.
Where as Foot and Mouth affect bovines, and West Nile - mosquitos, the H5N1 avian vector is why their is a panic. Wild birds are migratory, and
adaptaple to cold climates. Mosquitos are not as resilient in cold temps, and Bovines are more or less stationary. Birds can take this virus with
them as they migrate the globe, introducing H5N1 into native ecosystems, and rendering them infected.
This is the reason for the great fear in my opinion. As soon as H5N1 becomes tranmittable from human to human , and infected migratory birds spread
the virus potentially worldwide, the deathtoll will make the 1918 Pandemic look like a joke. With the population density of the world's cities much
greater today, intercontinental travel , common place, the effects of this virus very well may become catastrophic.
Oct. 5, 2005 -- Scientists who re-created the 1918 Spanish flu say the killer virus was initially a bird flu that learned to infect people.
Alarmingly, they find that today's H5N1 bird flu is starting to learn the same tricks.
The work involves researchers from the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP), the CDC, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and the U.S. Department of
Agriculture. Jeffery K. Taubenberger, MD, PhD, chief of molecular pathology at the AFIP, is one of the study leaders.
"These H5N1 viruses are being exposed to human adaptive pressures, and may be going down a similar path to the one that led to the 1918 virus,"
Taubenberger said in a news conference. "But the H5N1 strains have only a few of these mutations, whereas the 1918 virus has a larger number."
In 1918-1919, the so-called Spanish flu killed some 50 million people -- including 675,000 Americans. Most of the victims were healthy people in the
prime of life.
The researchers' findings -- published this week in the journals Nature and Science -- come from a remarkable decade-long effort to unlock the
secrets of the most deadly flu bug ever known.
To do this, the researchers used a technique called reverse genetics to re-create a living 1918 virus. To do this, they gathered viral DNA from the
preserved tissues of people who died in 1918 and 1919 -- including a woman whose body was frozen in the Alaskan permafrost