that he’s going to devote a significant amount of attention to the developing Asian Bird flu (H5N1) story on his new blog EPIDEMIca. M-J was a top-notch investigative reporter who changed his life to pursue an interest in infectious diseases – I can’t think of a better combo for someone who’s going to sift through the news and rumours about this potentially civilization-altering story.
The current outbreak in Thailand, Vietnam and China of bird flu – the H5N1 variety of the influenza virus – could be the start of a global pandemic of the flu. All public-health officials believe that the world is overdue for a pandemic, like those that killed hundreds of millions in 1918 and 1967. So far, bird flu has infected and killed only a few score of humans, but if the avian influenza virus mutates and acquires the ability to be transmitted from human to human, and not just from infected birds to humans, a pandemic will likely explode.