Bird Flu 1: Indonesian cluster concern; intro
The 23rd May 2006 update is a good summary of current knowledge:
The key aspects are:
1. There is no (yet) identified poultry to human infection path for 6 of the cases
2. No significant mutation of the H5N1 strain seems to have occured
3. No one outside the immediate family group has been infected in this cluster
4. 6 of the 7 infected have died
So, the feared mutation into an efficient human to human transmissible variant has probably not occured. However, it seems that very close contact with an infective human may result in infection. This is not particularly worrying and would not, of itself, lead to a pandemic.
Here's a BBC news story covering this and leading to some other good BBC resources on bird flu:
One worth noting is this:
which may help explain how only very close contact with an infective human might cause infection.
The extremely high mortality rate (6 of 7) in this cluster compared with the very high 50% human mortality rate from H5N1 so far is worrying if human to human transmission has occured. One might expect a lower mortality should mutation leading to human to human transmission occur. It is plausible that this cluster, being all from same family, were more susceptible to infection and mortality than most other humans would be.
Apart from the WHO and BBC sites which are both well worth reading, here are some more about flu, avian and human:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/influenza/ (about the 1918 US epidemic)http://www.marketwatch.com/News/Story/Story.aspx?guid=%7B80E760E2%2D9CF1%2D437F%2D93BF%2D7F0DF3EE2E30%7D&siteid=mktw&dist=
http://www.eswi.org/ (European, more tech than other sites, does anyone have a similar USA link?)
This site is more a 'marketing opportunity' than truly informative site about bird flu. Note the lack of recent news, out of date statistics, emphasis on scare stories, products for sale at first, second or third click on any item. Don't be taken in by the marketing but such sites (no doubt there are others as well as this one, lol) do sometimes have useful info:
Do take care with info from such sites. For example: the 1918 flu killed a relatively high number of young and healthy people, possibly because they had good immune system function - they effectively drowned due to immune response in their lungs. Would you think it wise to take medications to boost your immune system if you were infected?