3 Replies to ““Bird flu” kills in Iraq”

  1. It is my understadning that the 1918 flu (which was a H5N1)was particularly good at infecting young, healthy people with strong immune systems. I also heard that it was brought from Europe to North America and elsewhere by troops returning from World War 1. (my fathers family lost three to this flu in 1919) If so is the prescense of young, healthy US soldiers in a place where H5N1 is now found a potentially huge disaster in the making? I am no expert in epidemiology but I hope you can either reassure me that my fears are groundless (or else completely terrify me:)). Also would you know if it is possbile to increase the ability of H5N1 to pass from human to human or otherwise survive longer outside a host? In other words is there a known risk that the virus could be made more infectious and be spread amongst US troops?

  2. The 1918 strain was H1N1–and yes, it seemed to kill more of the young and healthy than an influenza virus typically does. We’ve seen this with H5N1 as well–both viruses cause a “cytokine storm,” essentially resulting in the patient drowning in their own fluid.

    As far as this:

    Also would you know if it is possbile to increase the ability of H5N1 to pass from human to human or otherwise survive longer outside a host? In other words is there a known risk that the virus could be made more infectious and be spread amongst US troops?

    Paul Ewald has put forth an idea that the 1918 flu was so virulent because it was allowed to evolve in immobilized troops and didn’t require healthy hosts to transmit it. If this holds (and there’s lots of disagreements over Ewald’s theories), then having it again around a combat situation could be a very bad thing.

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