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What is Happening to Bird Flu?

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posted on Jul, 30 2006 @ 05:53 PM

Bird Flu, Ebola and Dengue Fever are all RNA Viruses. But so What?

When an animal or person is infected with two or more RNA viruses at the same time, the viruses can exchange genetic material - that's how super-plagues are created.

This "genetic exchange" could occur in the wild - in bats, for example - domestic animals, or in infected people. Most areas where bird flu is now endemic also have other endemic RNA diseases, like dengue fever, or are susceptible to outbreaks of hemorrhagic fevers like Ebola.

RNA viruses include influenza (ie., bird flu), dengue fever, hemorrhagic fevers (ie., Ebola), gastroenteritis, encephalitis, and hepatitis - all life-threatening diseases.

Right now, all eyes are on Thailand watching for a bird flu/dengue fever hybrid - but it's a crap shoot. The genetic exchange could happen anywhere, with any RNA virus, with almost any individual in any species serving as the host "mixing-vessel."

It's a molecular time bomb.

IMO - the world's nations and political powers should be focusing on public health, not distracting people from the real crisis with wars.

Here's a quick overview of the science and the situation.


"Until now, it's been very much a single-host, single-pathogen type of framework," Rohani said. "Now with avian influenza being very much on everyone's mind, we're beginning to realize that the genetic diversity of infectious agents is really important."


RNA viruses can cause many life-threatening diseases such as hemorrhagic fevers, gastroenteritis, measles, influenza, dengue fever, encephalitis, and hepatitis.

Comparative structural genomics on viral enzymes involved in replication


The actin cytoskeleton has been implicated in playing an important role assembly and budding of several RNA virus families including retroviruses and paramyxoviruses.

Packagin g of actin into Ebola virus VLPs.


Researchers discovered that the Nipah virus, which killed 100 people last year in Singapore, originally came from fruit bats; the virus, a cousin to Ebola and HIV, is also carried by pigs

Fruit bats as reservoirs of Ebola virus.


Zoonosis is the cause of the vast majority of emerging diseases. Bats that occupy the second place in the mammal class play an important role. Whether they belong to the microchiroptera suborder or to the megachiroptera suborder, bats on all five continents have been implicated in transmission of numerous pathogens including not only viruses such as Lyssavirus (e.g. rabies), Hepanivirus (e.g. Hendra and Nipah virus) and recently coronavirus (e.g. SARS-like coronavirus and Ebola virus) but also fungus such as histoplasmosis. By modifying environmental conditions and encroaching on their biotope, human intervention has probably contributed to the introduction of chiropteras into an epidemiologic chain in which they previously had no place, thus promoting the emergence of new pathogens.

Chiropte ra and zoonosis: an emerging problem on all five continents


In December 1979, the British Medical Journal published a letter from an army physician that had laid undiscovered in a trunk in Detroit for 60 years. In the 1918 letter, the doctor who was attending to soldiers in Boston during the devastating pandemic that year described in graphic detail how they were dying from the flu: 'Two hours after admission they have the mahogany spots over the cheek bones and a few hours later you can begin to see the cyanosis extending from the ears and spreading all over the face, until it is hard to distinguish the colored man from the white.

'It is only a matter of a few hours then until death comes and it is simply a struggle for air until they suffocate.'
(Cyanosis is a bluish or purplish tinge to the skin.)

Note that reports described the Sichuan patients as having skin that turned very dark. Some H5N1 bird flu variants can produce bleeding under the skin. The index case in Thailand's human cases of bird flu this year was initially misdiagnosed as dengue hemorrhagic fever because of that bleeding.

Yale Global: China Bug – Is It Ebola-like Bird Flu?


Ebola-like disease outbreak in Angola may be bird flu

Original source: Recombinomics


The youth died after being admitted to a Phichit hospital on July 20, said Thawat Suntrajarn, director general of the ministry's disease control department, in a telephone interview today.

He tested positive to both dengue hemorrhagic fever and H5N1 avian flu, Thawat said.


112 people in Thailand under watch for bird flu

Authorities admit return of bird flu


As of June 17, there had been about 12,500 cases of dengue fever reported across Thailand this year or about 20 per 100,000 people. The total number of deaths from dengue fever in the period was 15.

Thailand on high alert for dengue outbreak

Dengue fever warning issued for south

Four provinces in Thailand declared "red zones" for dengue

Also see:

posted on Jul, 30 2006 @ 06:08 PM

I wrote this entry on my personal blog back in February 2005 about how the dangerous situation of the avian flu seeming to be most prolific in the same regions that are already combatting such viral outbreaks as Dengue fever, etc.

You can't access the original article anymore because my blog is gone, but I'll try to dig through the database and see if I can find the text.

I have to say I'm actually surprised the combination hasn't occurred yet.

posted on Jul, 30 2006 @ 06:17 PM

Originally posted by Valhall

I have to say I'm actually surprised the combination hasn't occurred yet.


...but I suspect it may have done - just not a fatally virulent form. Many chronic diseases have the same symptoms as hemorrhagic fevers, for example - but at 20 or 30 degrees severity instead of 180 (180 being fatal).

PS. I would like to see your blog - or even a re-post here?

Thanks - sofi

posted on Jul, 30 2006 @ 06:29 PM
(Forgive in html tags I might miss in cleaning this up.)

Watch Out, Mother Nature has WMDs

Threats from malicious biological attacks seem to pale in comparison to the lethal cocktail of diseases Mother Nature is currently brewing up. The World Health Organization (WHO) called an emergency conference this past week to address emergency measures to try to control the avian flu virus which is now considered pandemic in the Asian bird population. And the language being used by WHO officials is bordering on apocalyptic

The world is now in the gravest possible danger of a pandemic. If the virus becomes highly contagious among humans, the health impact in terms of deaths and sickness will be enormous" - Shigeru Omi (WHO)

But what is more concerning than the huge risk avian flu represents, is the even larger deathtoll that could result via a combination of an avian flu pandemic in human populations of countries whose people are already decimated by other diseases.

Right now, the countries being battered by the latest outbreak of the bird flu are Viet Nam, Cambodia and Thailand. But officials are warning more developed countries that if they don't start addressing this risk with preventive measures, it will show up on their streets.

Bird flu is of the H1 virus family. The H1 viruses have killed millions and millions. The most deadly outbreak was the H1 plague that swept around the globe in 1918. (This killed my great-grandmother and one of her sons.) When all was said and done over 21 million people had died from that pandemic. There have been other H1-type outbreaks over the years. H2, referred to as the Asian flu, hit in 1957. H3, referred to as the Hong Kong flu, hit in 1968. But this latest H5 outbreak in Asian birds apparently is affecting a larger geographic area, and a higher number of birds than most H1-type avian outbreaks, and this seems to have the health officials around the world mighty nervous.

We are seeing a highly pathogenic strain of influenza virus emerge ... across the entire western component of Asia. You may see the emergence of a new strain to which the human population has no immunity. - Dr. Julie Gerberding (head of US Center of Disease Control and Prevention)

Health authorities are exasperated because they've been working for more than year to slow the spread of this latest outbreak in birds, and haven't been able to. Dr. Gerberding states they are seeing signs of the virus rapidly mutating and she fears there is a "very high threat" that it will eventually mutate to the point it can transfer easily between people. Now, there have already been 55 cases of human illness in this outbreak, resulting in 42 deaths. But, so far, the disease has not been highly transmittable. With that said, the main point to make is that there is still no vaccine for this virus. If you get it, it's pretty much up to you, the Divine Intervention, and whatever medical support you can get to live through it.

But Dr. Connie Price, an infectious disease specialist with Denver Health Medical Center, points out there is still a window of opportunity.

"For a virus to completely redesign itself to become a more efficiently transmitted virus, that's going to take time," she said. "It's a race between us and the virus, and we hope we win."

Apparently, Colorado health authorities are listening to the warnings coming from WHO. In an interview published yesterday, Ned Calonge, chief medical officer with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, stated Colorado health agencies were in "a surveillance and preparedness mode". But even with the increased vigilence by certain health agencies in the U.S., there are fears the plans in place could be difficult to implement due to a lack of human resources. It appears nurses are in short supply these days in the U.S. Another area of concern is a short supply of ventilators. Though there are stockpiles of pharmaceuticals that affected states can draw from, expensive ventilators are not something that are stored in great numbers. The avian flu tends to cause significant respiratory distress.

Meanwhile, there is a plague occurring as we speak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. WHO is reporting that the pneumonic plague is now spreading in that region. Though the total number of cases is not known at this time, 61 deaths due to the pneumonic plague have been confirmed. The pneumonic plague is described by the WHO as the most virulent and least common form of plague. WHO states it is usually a secondary plague that initiates from people who have been infected with Bubonic plague. Pneumonic plague is transmitted through the air via aerosolized infective droplets (i.e. coughing, etc.)

Meanwhile, in Timor-Leste, 215 cases of dengue haemorrhagic fever have resulted in 20 deaths. Dengue fever is spread via mosquito bites. WHO states that 2.5 billion people are now at risk of contracting dengue fever. That's two-fifths of the world population. The disease is considered endemic in more than 100 countries now. These countries being located in tropical and sub-tropical environs. There are 50 million cases worldwide every year.

Dengue fever does not have a high mortality rate. But the concern dengue causes is it's high burden on existing health care facilities in the high-risk nations. There is no specific treatment of dengue fever, but it requires a high-maintenance clinical management of the disease to bring the patient through. And, of course, a patient ill with dengue fever will already be in a reduced state if another type of disease outbreak occurred. Some survivors of dengue fever could be permanently depleted in their ability to survive future diseases due to the permanent affects the fever can cause. Due to the already taxed health agencies in the countries where dengue fever are considered endemic, and the weakened state of victims of dengue fever, these 100+ countries could face catastrophic deathtolls if something such as avian flu broke out.

And the Asian countries fighting to get the spread of avian flu in the their bird populations under control before it mutates to a highly transmissible human pandemic are in those 100+ countries who already deal with 50,000,000 cases of dengue fever each year. As the scientists race against time, the tropical and sub-tropical countries of the world stand in the shadow of death.

Referenced Articles

Humanity in 'gravest possible danger' of bird flu pandemic
Health agencies plan for possible avian flu outbreak
Plague in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

(Originally written in February 2005)

posted on Aug, 8 2006 @ 04:08 PM
Thanks loam.

FYI - the CDC has been criticised for being unwilling to share scientific data on H5N1 "bird" flu - so now, they're sharing genetic information on 40 strains of H5N1 "bird" flu that infect humans:

CDC puts genetic sequences of about 40 human H5N1 viruses into public domain

The move to put the data in the public domain, giving scientists from around the world free access, came after the Indonesian government told the World Health Organization on Thursday that it was willing to share the genetic sequences of all H5N1 viruses isolated from humans there.

The CDC's influenza division is a reference laboratory for the WHO. The CDC and a laboratory at the University of Hong Kong run by influenza authority Dr. Malik Peiris have sequenced the human H5N1 viruses from Indonesia for the WHO. Peiris has also been asked by the WHO to release the Indonesian data in his possession. ...On Friday, CDC staff transferred genetic codes of more than 300 individual H5N1 genes into an open access sequence bank called the Influenza Sequence Database. Cox said the data will also be logged into Genbank, a second open access database. ...The Influenza Sequence Database is housed by the U.S. Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory; the same computers host a password-protected WHO database that includes the sequences of all H5N1 viruses that have been turned over to the WHO system.

That limited access system has been harshly criticized by scientists who don't have access to it. They have complained that keeping the data sequestered in this way is impeding the global scientific community's ability to puzzle out the mysteries of this dangerous virus.

So now the CDC acknowledges 40 strains of human H5N1 "bird" flu. Cool.

Any idea what they're still keeping under wraps? Any guesses?

Another question: What do you get when Ebola, West Nile, rabies and "bird" flu recombine genetically in our all-new retooled "natural" world? ...Besides population control and profit-making opportunities in the biotech sector, I mean?


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