Avian Flu – a bit of good news

This short NYT bulletin offers some encouragement that the mutation required for human transmissibility either may take many virus generations, or that H5N1 may not have what it takes. Or perhaps it just means that not enough pigs have been infected as yet.

Even as it crops up in the far corners of Europe and Africa, the virulent bird flu that raised fears of a human pandemic has been largely snuffed out in the parts of Southeast Asia where it claimed its first and most numerous victims.

Health officials are pleased and excited. “In Thailand and Vietnam, we’ve had the most fabulous success stories,” said Dr. David Nabarro, chief pandemic flu coordinator for the United Nations.

Vietnam, which has had almost half of the human cases of A(H5N1) flu in the world, has not seen a single case in humans or a single outbreak in poultry this year. Thailand, the second-hardest-hit nation until Indonesia recently passed it, has not had a human case this year or one in poultry in six months.