Originally posted by Relentless
And yet, if you think about it, there is a huge difference in sanitary conditions between 1918 and now. If sanitary conditions do play a major role,
maybe, just maybe, it partially explains the reason it has been so long since the last true pandemic. Now, on the other hand, if it mutates to a point
where the sanitary conditions no longer are a factor........
Sanitary conditions play a major role in the transmission of all airbourne and light contact (meaning easilly contracted through light contact with an
infected person) diseases. Avian flu is still an airbourne/light contact transmitted disease. So, as long as we all stick to the sanitary rules that
we were all taught by our parents - wash your hands, bathe, etc, that, combined with public sanitation as it is, means that this disease will have
very little chance to take a foothold, and even less to spread.
What my girlfriend, as well as many of the other senior scientists/researchers at NIH/NIAID/CDC feel will happen with the Avian Flu is this: There
will be a few deaths related to it, mostly in those who work with birds who happen to become infected, and possibly a few people close to these people
(family, etc). On the whole, however, it'll end up much the same as Mad Cow disease did, with really no large effect on the general population.
Those who will be seriously affected will be people living in third-world nations, in small villages with absolutely no sanitation, or possibly, if
another event like Katrina occurs in the US, and causes a situation like in New Orleans, where all sanitation is lost due to the storm, there could be
an outbreak there as well.
This small possiblity of it seriously affecting industrialized nations, however, isn't stopping those researchers and scientists at NIH/NIAID/CDC
from working to develop a cure. Even if we don't need it, there will be people who will. Additionally, understanding this disease could be quite
beneficial in understanding and curing future diseases.
Finally, on sanitation differences, even in the US, between the Spanish Flu outbreak in 1918 and now, I remember seeing photos of Baltimore from
around the turn of the century and now. 100 years ago, most human waste and household garbage was dumped into people's back yards and the alleys
immediately behind them. Alleys were often a thick soup of human and animal waste, household garbage, and rotting food. Stories tell of the horrible
stench from people's yards on a hot summer day. Today, people's yards tend to stay clean. Even if I go for two days without picking up my dog's
waste products in the yard, I can be subject to a $100 fine, and risk having the dog taken from me. Fines and penalties are even higher for human
waste. Beyond the public sanitation systems, there are many laws, codes, and regulations to keep sanitary levels high. I'm certain that laws like
this exist in just about every major city, not just in the US. Sanitation now is 100 times what it was, just 100 years ago.
All this said, I stand by the statement that the potential threat of the Avian Flu is blown way out of proportion.
To speculate for a moment, I'm wondering WHY it's blown out of proportion. Could it be to solely benefit pharmeceudical companies? Could be be
another means for the givernment to keep the general population in fear (especially as the public eye turns away from terrorism, and more towards
ending the war in Iraq)? Could it just be something that has just been blown wildly out of proportion because of the lack of understanding of the
disease? Any of these reasons are equally as possible. Who knows?
Edit: For this, or any other disease, to mutate to a point where sanitary conditions have no effect on the transmission of the disease, it will have
to become a virtually undetectable, blood or sexually transmitted disease, and be significantly more virulent than HIV. The undetectable part is the
biggest thing it will have to acheive, because as long as even a blood or sexually transmittable disease is detectable, it can be controllable - with
the aid of medical sanitary practices.
[edit on 13-11-2005 by obsidian468]