Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Aren't Birds Great?

Just this past weekend, a young Indonesian girl died of what doctors and local officials suspected to be avian flu. She was admitted to the hospital on the island of Sumatra just this past Saturday, displaying symptoms characteristic of H5N1 infection. Considering that Indonesia has already had 88 confirmed cases of H5N1 infection and that the virus is endemic in the birds that widely populate the area H5N1 was not an unlikely hypothesis. On Monday, officials confirmed that the tests came back negative: the young girl did not die of avian flu. However, this little scare of H5N1 infection has re-affirmed locals' fears of an H5N1 outbreak. Scientists worldwide are very concerned that H5N1 may mutate in the near future and achieve a form that is more easily transmitted between humans...thereby triggering a global pandemic. Scientists and other officials are especially concerned because with Indonesia having a plentitude of vector for H5N1 (all the local bird species that carry H5N1) and also being the fourth most populous nation in the world, there is substantial risk of a global pandemic should such a mutation occur in Indonesia.

Becca Briggs

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