Preparing for Pandemics

The 2012 Summer Olympics are raising concerns of a pandemic spreading in London, as masses of people flock to the city from around the world, according to the Influenza Pandemic Risk Index released by Maplecroft. At the same time another report from Cambridge University found that the H5N1 virus (a bird flu strain) is just three mutations from human to human transmission. These mutations, one of the study’s authors speculates, could happen in one human host.

Concurrently, the CDC is expanding its tools for avian influenza surveillance. They have introduced an inventory of various mutations for bird flu which is available online to all researchers. They have also released new prevention and treatment tips.

The best way to avoid infection is to avoid sources of exposure, according to the CDC. Stay away from sick poultry. Wash your hands whenever coming into contact with poultry and machinery contacting poultry. There is some antiviral medication available, also. Currently the U.S. government is stockpiling H5N1 vaccines in case of an outbreak, according to the CDC.

At this time, the virus does not spread from person to person except in some limited cases, according to the CDC. Until human to human transmission occurs, the chances of a global pandemic are limited.

Additional Resources

Maplecroft Flue Pandemics Likely to Spread Fastest in Travel Hub UK: http://maplecroft.com/about/news/influenza_pandemic_risk_index.html

The Times of India: “Bird Flu Pandemic Just 3 Mutations Away”: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-06-23/science/32381417_1_bird-flu-pandemic-mutations-deadly-virus

The CDC H5N1 Genetic Changes Inventory: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/pdf/avianflu/h5n1-inventory.pdf

The CDC Prevention and Treatment of Avian Influenza: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avianflu/prevention.htm

The CDC Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza A in People: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avianflu/h5n1-people.htm

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