From “The Wall Street Journal ” – Health authorities in Hong Kong are urging residents to take steps to ensure personal hygiene, and the city remains on high alert following the death of a man from Shenzhen province, China, from a strain of H5N1 bird influenza virus.
Just the Facts:
Bird flu, also known as avian influenza in very common in birds and remains a threat primarily to poultry, not humans. This is because the avian influenza virus poorly transmits from birds to humans. Although the H5N1 avian influenza virus is deadly when it infects humans (~ 60 % mortality rate3), since 2003 the avian influenza virus has only infected about 600 people world-wide (from WHO2). In many of these instances an infected individual was found to be in close or repeated contact with an infected bird.
A voice of Reason
According to Dr. Leo Poon from the University of Hong Kong’s school of public health, “The overall risk of a return of an H5N1 avian-flu outbreak in Hong Kong is low, as the infection in Shenzhen has not turned into an outbreak. We don’t think the virus is more contagious or deadly and he sees no need for Hong Kong residents to panic as there is no evidence that the virus can spread among humans.”