I have been following influenza since the "scare" in 2009 and think it is a source of great concern. Since there has been a number of recent troubling developments in this area I thought it would be a good idea to start a dedicated thread that may give Turdians an edge in coping and recognizing a serious situation that could arrive with shocking swiftness.
Bird flu, or H5N1, is now the main topic of concern in the influenza world. Currently the CFR (case fatality rate) for H5N1 is 60%, meaning for every 10 people infected historically 6 die. Now there are a couple strains of H5N1 in circulation and the one in Indonesia is reportedly more dangerous than the one in Vietnam. Virologists havent been too worried about H5N1 because it has not shown itself to transmit readily between humans. If there isnt easy transmission between humans then the pandemic scenario with a CFR of 60% is more the stuff of movies and nightmares. But recently there have been a couple of studies done in ferrets that indicate that a couple MINOR mutations on the viral body could not only increase the capacity for transmissibility but in a sustained and virulent way. This is very dangerous and to make matters worse the modifications that were made to the virus already exist in circulation today. These dangerous mutations just have not come together to form a "super-flu" that has all of the characteristics to make serious inroads into the human population, yet. The chance of this happening are real. As the virus moves through bird (main host) populations it is constantly mutating and recombining with other H5N1 genetics in order to evolve around host immune defenses, so the chances that these particular parts come together is not remote.