Monday, February 20, 2012

Bird Flu Remains A Menace in South Asia.

(Sorry for the late post! I meant to post this like 2 weeks ago! Woops...)

Though relatively forgotten by the mainstream press outside of the latest news about the modified version, bird flu remains enzootic in South and Southeast Asia. While the fervor over a possible pandemic has died down considerably as efforts have been stepped up to regionally contain the virus, elimination from key areas, much less eradication, has proven extremely tricky. Bird flu doesn't fit all of the requirements for a true human virus and despite or because of this, bird flu is a very serious, potentially fatal virus of humans. Though the odds of catching it from an infected bird are low, it can carry a nearly 50% mortality rate.

In South Asia, the past two months have been one long series of setbacks and embarrassments, as India's announcement of the elimination of all wild bird flu in December 2011 has been followed by a total loss of containment along the India-Bangladesh border. Even though India DID eliminate the virus, it couldn't change the infected status of birds in Bangladesh, who subsequently broke through containment, spreading an outbreak that traveled into Nepal. Along the way, the mere presence of the virus in any bird has led to mass cullings and the swift erection of new containment barriers enforced by vaccines and cullings of wild birds. While the government's ability and will to enact these measures gives this story a positive outlook, one cannot ignore that the outbreak began because of a failure to take such measures across borders. Until this can be done, the region can never be truly safe from a new outbreak. Just like with a human virus, complete eradication remains the only option to ensure that any given region is truly safe.

In conclusion, this story should serve to remind us that bird flu remains a real and endemic infection. It should also inform us of the difficulties in controlling and eliminating an epizootic infection. Unlike humans who can tell their doctor if they are sick or who can be easily vaccinated en masse, animals need to be controlled with much stricter options, such as culling, and have no respect for human borders.

-Zachary Herrera
References:
Nepal Outbreak + Response
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5j7xEcYCva8ncWPDqGc3qKPBJCxzw?docId=CNG.d7502e631fd80bd9b27d505006b05b64.41
Indian Outbreak
http://www.worldpoultry.net/news/bird-flu-prompts-mass-poultry-cullings-in-india-9972.html
More Recent News from Vietnam:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia-pacific/what-happened-to-bird-flu-deaths-continue-new-strain-outsmarts-poultry-vaccine-in-vietnam/2012/02/17/gIQAEGmAJR_story.html

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