The first patient was a 13-year-old girl…

I have been reading the Disease Outbreak News from the World Health Organization’s Epidemic and Pandemic Alert and Response group for the past while. Like today’s Avian influenza – situation in Indonesia — update.

With all the “we’re all going to die” media hype surrounding avian flu, I find the style of the WHO bulletins pleasingly straightforward. Not that their contents are pleasing. Indeed, absent of hype as they are, the simple stories are starkly depressing:

The first patient was a 13-year-old girl. She developed symptoms on 6 January, was hospitalized on 12 January, and died on 14 January. The second patient was her four-year-old brother. He developed symptoms on 8 January, was hospitalized on 14 January, and died on 17 January.
Two other family members, a 14-year-old sister and the 43-year-old father, remain hospitalized with respiratory symptoms. The sister was hospitalized on 14 January and the father on 17 January. Samples from these cases are being tested to determine whether they were also infected with the H5N1 avian influenza virus.
Investigations conducted by the Ministry of Health and WHO found evidence of a large poultry outbreak in the family’s neighbourhood. Chickens kept by the family began to die three days before the first patient developed symptoms. All family members had close contact with the diseased chickens and assisted in the removal of dead birds.


Marian's picture
Marian on January 23, 2006 - 23:12 Permalink

An avian flu epidemic isn’t impossible, but it does have to jump to human to human transmission before we should really worry.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on January 24, 2006 - 00:13 Permalink

…unless you happen to live in close proximity to infected poultry…

Marian's picture
Marian on January 24, 2006 - 01:34 Permalink

Or infected birds. Gotcha. The window to the chimney in our apartment here in Budapest is always closed to keep the pigeons out.

Marian's picture
Marian on January 24, 2006 - 18:33 Permalink

Right. I’ll keep that in mind when bird flu does completely jump the species barrier and my kids are sick with it (???). Thank you. That’s a very effective non-sequitur.

Ann's picture
Ann on January 24, 2006 - 20:24 Permalink

I was actually meaning Peter.

My point is that we already have a global pandemic and not enough people seem to care very much — not on the ground anyway, where people actually have the disease.

Marian's picture
Marian on January 25, 2006 - 12:02 Permalink

I agree with you.