Prognosis for bird flu still alarming

Aug 23, 2005

The man who 40 years ago predicted the origin of pandemic influenza says seeing his hunch come true would be thrilling if it were not so terrifying.

Robert Webster was a young New Zealand microbiologist when he demonstrated the microbe that swept the globe in 1957 as "Asian flu" was similar to strains of virus carried by certain birds in the years before, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Today, Webster, now 73, says he's deeply worried by strains of an influenza virus known as A/H5N1 that have been spreading in birds across Southeast Asia and China since 1996.

What has Webster and other experts so worried is the mortality rate of more than 55 percent among the 112 people who have been infected with the H5N1 "bird flu." Such a fatality rate outstrips any human flu epidemic on record, including the epochal Spanish flu of 1918 and 1919 that killed at least 50 million people.

He told the Post he believes an avian flu pandemic "is just inevitable and says nations should be preparing plans to limit human movement should a pandemic flu strain emerge.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Texas OKs most new history textbooks amid outcry

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Expert warns of complacency after swine flu fizzle

Sep 05, 2010

(AP) -- A leading virus expert urged health authorities around the world Sunday to stay vigilant even though the recent swine flu pandemic was less deadly than expected, warning that bird flu could spark ...

Avian influenza strain primes brain for Parkinson's disease

Aug 10, 2009

At least one strain of the H5N1 avian influenza virus leaves survivors at significantly increased risk for Parkinson's disease and possibly other neurological problems later in life, according to new research from St. Jude ...

Top flu expert warns of a swine flu-bird flu mix

May 08, 2009

(AP) -- Bird flu kills more than 60 percent of its human victims, but doesn't easily pass from person to person. Swine flu can be spread with a sneeze or handshake, but kills only a small fraction of the ...

Unusual flu vaccine is developed

Jun 14, 2006

U.S. scientists have used reverse genetics to develop an influenza virus with two key proteins on its surface derived from the H5N1 avian virus strain.

Recommended for you

When shareholders exacerbate their own banks' crisis

21 hours ago

Banks are increasingly issuing 'CoCo' bonds to boost the levels of equity they hold. In a crisis situation, bondholders are forced to convert these bonds into a bank's equity. To date, such bonds have been ...

Trouble with your boss? Own it

21 hours ago

Don't get along with your boss? Your job performance may actually improve if the two of you can come to grips with the poor relationship.

Engineers develop gift guide for parents

21 hours ago

Faculty and staff in Purdue University's College of Engineering have come up with a holiday gift guide that can help engage children in engineering concepts.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.