Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New H5N1 Avian Flu Outbreak

While most individuals are continuing to focus on the on-going H1N1 swine flu pandemic, they are generally unaware that a new H5N1 avian flu outbreak is occuring with reported cases in several countries, including 90 reported cases in Egypt alone. At this point, no one knows how severe this new flu outbreak will be. While the 2009 H1N1 swine flu has turned out to not be as severe as feared, health officials warn that at some point we could have a repeat of the 1918-19 Spanish flu -- also known as the "Great Influenza" - which caused more deaths from any single cause in human history. As many as 150 million people worldwide died from the 1918 Spanish flu, 700,000 of these in the U.S. Like the current H1N1 swine flu, what was unique about the 1918 Spanish flu was how young people were more likely to die than adults. It is still unclear what are the characteristics of the even newer H5N1 avian flu outbreak.