Tuesday, November 20, 2007

WHO urges nations to share birdflu virus samples

What else to encourage the Thanksgiving spirit!

According to Margret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organisation, "The sharing of currently circulating viruses is the only way to monitor the emergence of drug-resistant strains". This effort to help countries prepare for a human influenza pandemic and share samples linked to the H5N1 bird flu virus is rooted in the thinking that sharing the viruses is the "foundation of risk assessment". Analysis and comparison of viruses expose first clues and are the warning signs that the virus may be evolving in a dangerous way.Both China and Indonesia have shared the samples of the virus from its cases this year. The H5N1 virus has killed 206 of 335 people infected since 2003 in 12 countries, according to the WHO. Experts fear the constantly mutating virus could change into a form easily transmitted from person to person and sweep the world in months. A pandemic could kill millions of people, shut down businesses and overwhelm health care systems. Sixteen companies are at various stages of licensing a vaccine against H5N1, the virus most experts suspect could spark a pandemic.


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