Northern Ireland at low risk from avian flu

I’m not quite sure how they worked this one out, but apparently Northern Ireland is only at low risk from a pandemic of Avian Flu. Although the risk of it ever breaking out is incalculable, overall, the UK is one of the best prepared countries in the world, with enough anti viral Tamiflu to treat 25% of the population, compared with 5% of the Canadian and 1% of the US populations. Thanks to David for the figures.

  • peteb

    Hmmm.. could this attempt at re-assuring us that there’s a low risk be, in any way, connected to the Times report that Tim Worstall noted?

    Times article here

  • Paul

    Tamiflu? Yeah, good for bog basic Flu but not the potential H5N1 human to human virus. There’s no vaccine at the moment, the virus itself wont be known til it mutates and only then can a vaccine be developed. NI has international airports, if/when it hits, we’ll be hit just as hard as anywhere else.

  • Robert Keogh

    Guys don’t sweat this whole “killer flu” pandemic unless you are old, young, have cystic fibrosis, tuberculosis, hiv or some other disease that impairs your immune system and/or lungs.

    A few years back an epidemiologist did a very interesting study of mortality rates and life expectancy for the populations that were hit by the 1918 pandemic. If the flu was solely responsible for the deaths then you would expect to see increased mortality rates and decreased life expectancy in the populations affected – however this statistical impact was not observed which leads to the conclusion that the people who died were probably going to die soon anyway. It was probably the combination of a primary disease that had rendered the patient vulnerable and when they contracted the agressive flu it was more than their comprised bodies could handle.

    The best thing you can do to ward off a killer flu is to eat well, keep your immune system up to maximum strength, treat the flu symptoms aggressively (no toughing it out, use the damn over the counter medicines), avoid the flu shots and try to catch every cold and flu you can (the last two don’t apply if you are in one of the vulnerable categories listed above.)

  • Animus

    Well, Robert, most of us know someone who is old, young, etc. who would be at risk. So although I’m not panicking, I’m certainly hoping the flu doesn’t hit, for the sake of my baby son, if for no other reason.

  • Alex

    Any chance of a link to that study?

  • Mick

    Notwithstanding Robert’s comments above, it is misleading to suggest that Tamiflu is not effective. It’s not a vaccine. But even judicious use amongst key groups could play an important role in preventing the spread of the disease.

    To add to Alex’s request: any chance of a citation of the study Robert?

  • DavidS

    From an contemporary account of the 1918 flu hitting an army base in the US:

    “[The soldiers] rapidly develop the most viscous type of Pneumonia that has ever been seen.

    “Two hours after admission they have the Mahogany spots over the cheek bones and a few hours later you can begin to see the Cyanosis extending from the ears and spreading all over the face…

    “It is only a few hours until death comes and it is simply a struggle for air until they suffocate. It is horrible.

    “One can stand to see one, two or twenty men die, but to see these poor devils dropping like flies gets on your nerves. We have been averaging about 100 deaths a day.”

  • Robert Keogh

    I tried to find a link the published study but alas medline failed me. It was published in 1999/2000 and if I manage to find it I’ll put a link up here.