Sunday, February 19, 2006

bird flu reaches india

The H5N1 avian influenza has now reached India. Over the past couple of weeks, it has popped up in Egypt, Nigeria, Italy, Austria, and other places. It's just a matter of time before it makes its way to the Americas.

Every new place this virus establishes itself in bird populations creates that many more opportunities for the virus to lodge itself in the body of a human (or maybe a pig or some other domestic animal) who also has some other influenza virus, with the possibility of recombining or mutating into a form more transmittable from human to human. Not likely perhaps in more industrialized societies like Austria, but in places like Egypt, India and Nigeria (not to mention China, Indonesia, and Vietnam) where people even in cities are in closer contact with domestic animals, there are many more occasions for such virus-swapping.