If the recent deluge of bird flu reports around the world has you about as wary as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, you aren't alone. While we've stared into this viral abyss before and have come out unscathed, never in the 12 year's I've been covering avian flu have I seen so many concurrent threats, in so many different parts of the world.
None of this guarantees we are on the brink of a pandemic. These avian viruses could simmer quietly for years to come before (hopefully) fading away, or - worst case - becoming a major public health risk.
But the more novel flu threats in circulation, the greater the risk that one of these viruses could become a contender. And today, that list is long (H5N1, H5N8, H5N6, H7N9, H5N5, etc.) and getting longer.
So the risks are elevated.
This morning Reuters has a long report, with comments by CIDRAP Director Michael Osterholm, Virologist/blogger Dr. Ian Mackay, and Dr. David Nabarro (who is one of three candidates for WHO Directorship this year). All three should be very familiar to readers of this blog, and know of what they speak.
I'll simply provide the link, since you'll want to read the entire story.
The global spread of bird flu and the number of viral strains currently circulating and causing infections have reached unprecedented levels
* Number of outbreaks, strains at unprecedented level-experts
* Raises risk of a jump to humans and potential pandemic
* WHO chief warns world to watch for warning signals
* Graphic on bird flu outbreaks: http://tmsnrt.rs/2icUV8J
* Graphic on different strains: http://tmsnrt.rs/2hCJ6FM
By Kate Kelland, Health and Science Correspondent
LONDON, Jan 26 (Reuters) - The global spread of bird flu and the number of viral strains currently circulating and causing infections have reached unprecedented levels, raising the risk of a potential human outbreak, according to disease experts.
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