Thursday, April 4, 2013

New Bird Flu Virus & Kalla's Pandemic

In the disease category, we've covered smallpox and HIV/AIDS. Now there appears to be a new strain of bird flu -- with no human-to-human transmission yet, thankfully. Here's yesterday's BBC story "China: Four more infected with H7N9 bird flu:"
A further four cases of a bird flu virus not previously seen in humans have been reported by authorities in China. Three women aged 32, 45 and 48, and an 83-year-old man were diagnosed between 19 and 21 March and are critically ill. There have now been seven confirmed cases of the H7N9 virus, the World Health Organization said. Two people have died. But the WHO says there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission.
For a novel about a worldwide plague of bird flu, try Pandemic by Daniel Kalla:
Right now, in a remote corner of rural China, a farmer and his family are sharing their water supply with their livestock: chickens, ducks, pigs, sheep. They share the same waste-disposal system, too. 
Bird viruses meet their human counterparts in the bloodstreams of the swine, where they mix and mutate before spreading back into the human population. And a new flu is born.... 
Dr. Noah Haldane, of the World Health Organization, knows that humanity is overdue for a new killer flu, like the great influenza pandemic of 1919 that killed more than twenty million people in less than four months. So when a mysterious new strain of flu is reported in the Gansu Province of mainland China, WHO immediately sends a team to investigate. Haldane and his colleagues soon discover that the new disease, dubbed Acute Respiratory Collapse Syndrome, is far more deadly than SARS, killing one in four victims, regardless of their age or health. But even as WHO struggles to contain the outbreak, ARCS is already spreading...

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