Most Bird Flu Victims Under 40

The WHO has found that the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus kills mostly young people. This is similar to how the deadly 1918 influenza outbreak killed a large proportion of younger people. A Raw Story article provides these excerpts from the WHO report.
  • Half of the cases occurred in people under the age of 20 years; 90% of cases occurred in people under the age of 40 years.
  • The overall case-fatality rate was 56%. Case fatality was high in all age groups but was highest in persons aged 10 to 39 years.
  • The case-fatality profile by age group differs from that seen in seasonal influenza, where mortality is highest in the elderly.
  • The overall case-fatality rate was highest in 2004 (73%), followed by 63% to date in 2006, and 43% in 2005.
  • Assessment of mortality rates and the time intervals between symptom onset and hospitalization and between symptom onset and death suggests that the illness pattern has not changed substantially during the three years.
  • The SFGate.com reports that the article also warned of an increase in H5N1 deaths later this Fall.
    Deaths from the disease surged in the winter for the last three years, the report released Friday said, so a rise in fatal cases can be expected late this year even if the virus does not mutate into a form more easily transmitted.

    Moreover, the report warned, the risk of the virus becoming more transmissible remains high "because of the widespread distribution of the H5N1 virus in poultry and the continued exposure of humans."
    The WHO is doing its best to keep people aware. Crawford Kilian, the author of the H5N1 blog, explains how interest in bird flu is actually pretty small compared to other topics. We will have to hope that the right people, doctors, politicians, disaster planners, farmers, veterinarians, etc. are all paying attention.

    Posted on July 10, 2006

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