[editing below is mine]
Tuesday, Vietnam, which has long battled the virus, confirmed its first H5N1
death in nine months. Earlier in January, the first human case was reported in
North America after a person traveling back from a trip to Beijing became ill
and died in Canada.
bird flus cause high fever and respiratory problems, including pneumonia and
shortness of breath. Scientists have repeatedly warned that the viruses cannot
be ignored because of their potential to possibly spark a global pandemic. But
after years of campaigning in countries where it's common for chickens and pigs
to live closely with people, sometimes in the same house, that message is often
a hard sell.
almost a decade of sitting on the proverbial edge of the H5N1 pandemic cliff
and not falling off, people are beginning to think that we never will
fall," Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert at the University
of Minnesota, said by email. "But the best scientific assessment of
microbial genetics tells us we could still fall off of that cliff and if we do,
the global consequences could be devastating."
is a central part of many families' dinner tables during the Lunar New Year
festivities, and it's often bought live and killed at home in China and
elsewhere across the region. The WHO urges care when slaughtering and preparing
birds, including frequent hand washing. However, well-cooked meat and eggs do
not pose a threat.