Friday, October 14, 2005


We have all heard about the bird flu that is hitting Asia right now. 117 infected and 60 dead so far. It is frightening because it brings to mind the 1918 flu that killed up to 50 million people! Will we be able to deal with an outbreak of this flu if it comes to the US or North America?

The drug being used to treat people who have contracted the disease is called Tamiflu. There are several problems with this drug. 1) There are not enough doses to treat everyone, nowhere near the number of doses needed. 2) It is not the cure-all that the scientists would like it to be, because 3) They have come across a girl in Vietnam* in whom the flu seemed to be resistent to the drug. She has since recovered, but the prophylactic doses did not keep her from getting the full-blown disease.

This is all news that makes us uneasy about the future, but there is something else that can drop us into a nightmare. Charles Krauthammer** wrote his Op-Ed article about the news that a laboratory has recreated the flu that killed all those people in 1918. The is an amazing feat. This is something that the movie Jurassic Park delved into...the recreation of long dead organisms. A benefit of recreating this disease is that it is teaching the scientists more about the bird flu we have now, but it is also showed them that this recreation killed the quarantined lab mice faster than any other flu ever tested!

Here is what will keep you up at night: The entire genome for the "Spanish Flu" has been published! This means that someone with ambitions could send out a Superflu that will kill millions. Why bother with a nuclear weapon that only takes out a city, when you can have something that can wipe out an entire country? All it would take is one bribeable or angry lab employee to get the disease out of the laboratory and into the hands of an enemy.

So what does this mean? Well, the bird flu is scary because it's already killed many people and it hasn't even mutated into a human-to-human passed disease. The recreated flu, though, has already mutated to that point and should it be released could cause deaths on a scale of biblical proportions! That is our nightmare...

Read the full stories on both the Vietnamese girl and Charles Krauthammer's article:
* AP Breaking News
** Charles Krauthammer's Op-Ed article.

Oh, and if you have dogs....don't leave them in a kennel. Dog flu is running rampid in 11 different states and it is killing many dogs who have been taken care of in kennels. There is no vaccine and no cure for this canine flu and can be passed through the air and even on inanimate objects. Keep an eye on Rover!

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