Monday, October 24, 2005
Now let us qualify that: Since December 2003, the H5N1 bird flu virus -- which has caused all the ruckus -- has been responsible for the documented infection of 121 people, 91 one of whom caught the virus in Vietnam. In all cases where information on the chain of infection has been confirmed, the virus was transmitted either by repeated close contact with fowl or via the ingestion of insufficiently cooked chicken products. In not a single case has human-to-human communicability been confirmed. So long as that remains the case, there is no bird flu threat to the human population of places such as Vietnam at large, much less the United States.
If true, we can use this to guide our own strategy towards avoiding the malady.
First, we need to continue to closely monitor the situation so if the virus mutates to a form that allows human to human transmission, we will know immediately. Their seems to be enough concern that, should evidence of such a transmission surface, we are likely to hear about it from a number of sources.
Second, as avian flu continues to spread among worldwide poultry stocks, we can reduce our risks of exposure by eating well cooked birds. (I will immediately make a dietary adjustment to eating more poultry cooked in this manner, favored by the legendary General Tso).