January 11, 2006

Whatever you do, don't panic

However, just to be on the safe side, avoid poultry like the plague. So says the WHO to Turkey:

World Health Organization officials urged people not to panic, but said it was crucial to avoid all contact with sick or dead poultry

Um, dead as in "bought at the market" dead? Or "dead on the side of the road" dead?

"The worst situation is a panic situation," Dr. Marc Danzon, WHO regional director for Europe, told reporters at a joint press conference with Turkish Health Minister Recep Adkdag. "There is no reason for panic."

Nope. No reason.

"The more humans infected with the avian virus, the more chance it has to adapt. We may be playing with fire," said Guenael Rodier, a senior WHO communicable disease specialist who was dispatched to Turkey to investigate the outbreak.

Rodier said in an interview that cases of infected birds are being reported in areas of Turkey that animal health officials had considered free of the virus. "It seems like it has spread much more widely in animals and in more districts than was initially thought," he said.

But as long as people avoid dead birds, they're fine, right?

It is not surprising that children contracted bird flu because, in villages, they often play with domestic fowls and keep them as pets, Rodier said. "With sick chickens, it is easier to catch them than healthy ones," he said.

Oops. Or playing with live ones that are infected. Which are known to be infected because they are "easier to catch."

Michael L. Perdue, who is running WHO's response to the Turkish outbreaks from the agency's headquarters in Geneva, said initial genetic sequencing of human and animal samples from Turkey indicate there have been "interesting changes" in the makeup of H5N1. He said that the agency received this information Tuesday and that it would take several weeks for experts to determine whether these genetic changes were significant for the behavior of the virus.

But he said researchers had already been able to determine from this sequencing information that the virus infecting people in Turkey was almost identical to that in poultry. "They are very similar to each other, so it verifies that the animal seems to be the source for the human infection, which we assumed," Perdue told journalists in a teleconference.

This is almost too much to bear. Avian flu in Turkey being studied by Perdue. It's too much.

Posted by binky at January 11, 2006 10:48 AM | TrackBack | Posted to Health



Posted by: kcb at January 11, 2006 08:10 PM | PERMALINK
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