Monday, May 13, 2013

New coronavirus (SARS) appears in Middle East; Bird flu moderates in China but is theoretically very dangerous; Roman empire ended due to plague


The Weather Channel is reporting on three major world health matters today.
   
One is an article about recent developments with both H7N9 (bird flu) in China, and a coronavirus resembling SARS in the Middle East.  The news story is here

The new firm of bird flu is a bit harder to control than H5N1 because it doesn’t make birds sick – just mammals.  It’s not apparent that the virus passes person-to-person, although there are one or two disturbing anecdotes.
  
China has gotten stricter on the sale of live poultry in open markets. 
  
The new SARS virus may be transmissible person-to-person in really close contact. Remember that in 2003, it really was contained by strict quarantine and social distancing rules. 
  
The Weather Channel also reports new evidence that a plague epidemic occurred about the time of the fall of the Roman Empire and may have hastened the fall.
   
It’s apparent that the biggest world pandemic threats now come from conventionally transmissible viral diseases (including smallpoc, if it gets reengineered by terrorists), rather than from STD’s that get “amplified” in a circumscribed population (gay men), as the far Right argued in the 1980s.  Of course, science fiction writers will always imagine new, Dystopia-producing viruses.  What if a virus made reproduction impossible (as in the film “Children of Men” (2006).  


Update: May 15

More concerns have been expressed about additional cases of the SARS-like illness in the Middle East (link) , possible spread to health care workers, and at least one original case in the UK where the virus was transmitted to a family member from a traveler returning from the middle East, but that UK patient had a mild infection (confirmed by specimens) and recovered.

It may happen that people with intact immune systems normally recover.

There are some concerns that it could be spread in Saudi Arabia by the hajj.

Keep up with the World Health Organization (WHO), with latest report today here

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