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October 05, 2005

CIDRAP case and death update, October 5

CIDRAP offers a new update on laboratory-confirmed human cases of H5N1 avian influenza. As always, it includes both official and unofficial tallies: Officially, 116 cases and 60 deaths (51.7% mortality). Unofficially, 124 cases and 65 deaths (52.4% mortality). While the cases are still comparatively few, it seems strange that mortality should remain so high.

The consensus seems to be that H5N1 will trade off its lethality as it learns how to infect humans directly. Otherwise, we're in really big trouble. Dr. Bob Gleeson tells us that 25% is a likely number to be infected in any influenza outbreak, with only a very small percentage actually dying from the disease. But if 75 million Americans are infected, and half die, the US would lose almost 40 million; for Canada the equivalent toll would be about 4 million dead.

It's small consolation to reflect that three out of four of us wouldn't get the flu at all. The survivors would go through an experience no human population has known since the 16th and 17th centuries, when smallpox, measles, and other European diseases wiped out millions of native Americans.

Posted by dymaxion at October 5, 2005 10:07 PM

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