A few days ago, Phil Palin noted the continuing spread of the H5N1 virus in Egypt: “According to the World Health Organization of the 64 cases confirmed to date in Egypt, 23 have been fatal.”
A related story yesterday (here) suggested additional H5N1 concerns:
“An unusual pattern of avian flu cases in Egypt — almost all are in toddlers, all of whom have survived — has led some flu-tracking Web sites to speculate that dozens of silent cases are circulating there.”
Other people disagree (with hope): “Right now, it’s all hot air,” said Dr. Robert G. Webster, a flu expert at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. “I hope to hell it’s not happening, because it would mean the virus is adapting to humans. But there’s not a shred of data.”
“Adapting to humans” is code for “1918 can happen again, but really bad this time.”
If we keep dodging the H5N1 bullet (or its various mutations), odds are its a matter of time before something else biological threatens the security of the homeland, including the planetary part of the homeland.
In the video below (click on the image), Nathan Wolfe describes his idea for getting a decades head start on future biological threats — “preventing epidemics before they happen, sidelining them via early-warning systems and alleviating the poverty from which easy transmission emerges.”
The video is 12 minutes, but I thought the first 3 minutes and the last 3 minutes capture the core of what he and his colleagues are trying to do.
(The video comes from ted.com. If the internet did not exist, TED would be a reason to invent it.)