It has been confirmed that the variant of avian flu found in Turkey is the H5N1 high pathogenic virus. Obviously on reading this one is caught between a feeling of panic and a desire to stay calm. Frankly the stay calm bit should win out, in all of us. Panic only makes things worse.
Clearly were some of the worst fears to be realised this would be a grave situation, but hopefully they won’t. One key point which needs to be made is that there still isn’t a H5N1 strain that is readily transmitted among humans, hopefully there won’t be, even if this may be hope against hope.
The WHO have an informative update on the Geographical spread of H5N1 avian influenza in birds. If you look at this report from the WHO on the situation in Indonesia (where three people have died) or in Vietnam (where 21 of the 64 cases proved fatal) you will see that even when the virus does cross species it is containable. So while the possibility of a pandemic exists we are not there yet, and possibly never will be. It’s quantifying the *possibly* part that is difficult. Basically I have put this post up in case any one else wants to voice an opinion. Clearly we at Afoe will try and monitor this situation from now on.
UPDATE (by Doug Merrill): Good sense from a biologist on what is likely to be helpful and what not can be found here.