And now, the bird flu threat in NWFP

Peshawar and Mansehra in the spotlight again

People looking out for bird flu cases are sitting up, for it has emerged that the feared human-to-human transmission of the flu virus might have occured. Scott McPherson writes:

In one of the numerous Pakistani H5N1-related bird culls of the past few months, a veterinarian appears to have been exposed to the H5N1 avian flu virus last October. Remember that date. He then, by all appearances, transmitted the virus to one or more of his brothers. They died ten days apart, strongly suggesting a chain human-to-human transmission, precisely because of the lag times. If the two sons were infected by, say, eating a diseased chicken at the same dinner table, or even as leftovers, the infection incubation period — and therefore the deaths — would have occurred much more closely together.

But they didn’t, and the timetable gets really scary here. If the vet brother (A) gets infected in October during the cull, and one brother (B) dies on November 19 and the other brother (C) on November 29, there is reason to strongly suspect the infections were passed down like a daisy-chain. Human to human. Chain transmission. [Scott McPherson’s Web Presence]

The WHO and a US Navy team have been dispatched to probe the two or three clusters of the outbreak in Pakistan. Reports are unclear where exactly the outbreaks have occured, variously locating Abbotabad, Peshawar and Mansehra as the sites. (Related posts from Michael Coston’s Avian Flu Diary).