Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
China Medicine Science

Tests Show That Deadly New Flu Could Spread Among People 185

Posted by samzenpus
from the patient-zero dept.
An anonymous reader writes in with another news story about how the bird flu may wipe us out. "A new bird flu that has killed 36 people in China can spread from ferret to ferret through the air. A laboratory test showing airborne transmission of the H7N9 avian influenza virus between the animals has raised fears that the virus is poised to become a human pandemic. The H7N9 avian influenza virus emerged suddenly at the end of February and has infected 131 people. A few patients may have caught the virus from other infected people, but no evidence has emerged that H7N9 can readily transmit from human to human."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Tests Show That Deadly New Flu Could Spread Among People

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 26, 2013 @03:25PM (#43828425)

    The editor shamelessly says that the bird flu "may wipe us out", yet it has killed 36 out of 131 known cases -- hardly enough to wipe anything out -- and the quote in the actual summary says "no evidence has emerged that H7N9 can readily transmit from human to human."

    • by clm1970 (1728766) on Sunday May 26, 2013 @03:28PM (#43828443)
      Exactly FUD. Ferret != Human.and Conditions ferrets in != usual human conditions. There’s no guarantee the virus will spread similarly from person to person, says Ana Fernandez-Sesma, a viral immunologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. In the experiment, ferrets are together for hours with forced airflow under temperature and humidity conditions that favor viral transmission, she says. “I don’t think this is what happens in real life.”
      • by alexander_686 (957440) on Sunday May 26, 2013 @03:52PM (#43828541)

        Not exactly FUD. Think of it as a snowball that might turn into a avalanche.
              A 25% kill rate is nothing to sneeze at.
              Ferret are the best animal model we have – and there are open questions on how it was transmitted.
              And, most importantly, there is the question on how this virus would change it if went wide.

        A virus needs to balance out 2 factors from a evolutionary standpoint. First, the more copies of itself it turns out the better chance it while have to spread, while the more copies it turns out the more likely it will kill the host so no more copies will be turned out.

        If this virus went wide, the more virulent versions would dominate, which means the death toll would be higher.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virulence#Evolution [wikipedia.org]

        Remember to wash your hands and sneeze into your sleeve everybody! (I am not stocking up on antivirals yet.)

        • by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday May 26, 2013 @04:08PM (#43828617)
          It doesn't have 25% kill rate. Of those admitted to hospitals, it killed 25% The other million who got it just stayed home, knowing the flu isn't treatable. Much like the swine flu was overblown. I actually got the real swine flu (from a trip to So Cal). It wasn't that bad. I've had worse flus. I also got flu-based pneumonia from China once. Bacterial pneumonia can be treated. Viral flu can't. The issue is the people that get secondary infections and don't seek treatment. That was what lead to the swine flu initial fatality rates. All flus in the past 20 years have been initially 25% fatal or so, eventually returning to the historical flu levels of under 1%. 25% is 24.9% error.
          • It doesn't have 25% kill rate. Of those admitted to hospitals, it killed 25%

            Furthermore, as a virus spreads through a population, there is strong selective pressure to become less lethal, but more contagious. A dead victim is no longer spreading the virus. If the virus can infect someone without killing them, and even without making them very sick, then the victim will go about their business and spread the virus widely. So when a virus first makes the animal->human jump, it may have a high percentage death rate, but the percentage death rate will quickly drop as the virus ev

            • You have that backwards – virus can either burn fast or burn slow.

              A virus that burns slow is less contagious and less lethal to it's host. If it is less contagious then it needs to keep it host alive for a longer period of time so there can be more opportunities to spread (or vice versa.).

              As for less lethal over time – that is a maybe. Do you burn hot and fast or long and slow? One strategy does not strictly dominate the other.

              If a virus can transfer to a host faster then it can kill off it's ol

              • by AK Marc (707885)
                The first time we run into accelerating viruses, we are screwed. Picture something that becomes more "hot" as it encounters more copies of itself, starting slow, and heating up exponentially, with sufficient contagion in the "cold" period. The longer the contagious incubation, the greater the spread and panic would be.
                • by MarkvW (1037596)

                  "We're" not screwed. Looking at "us" from above, the herd could use some thinning . . ..

              • by Khyber (864651)

                "A virus that burns slow is less contagious and less lethal to it's host."

                Explain HIV, then. Untreated, 100% fatal and your body can't (excepting a few select of the population, myself included) resist or develop natural immunity on its own (and in my case, born without the CCR5 receptor gene.)

                And it's very easily spread. Well, maybe not amongst the typical /. population, but the rest of the world, especially in places with high populations and lacking education. China, India, etc.

                I think you need to learn

                • Odd, but I see AIDs as a great example. Virulence is a plus as long as you can spread before you kill your host.

                  Take the pre-1900s STDs like syphilis. Like AIDs it was 100% deadly – pre-antibiotics. However, back then, people had fewer sexual partners. If you have to wait a long time to jump from one to another – and you are 100% deadly, you burn slowly, you converse your host.

                  Now look at AIDs and the 1980s. The groups that it exploded in were very sexually promiscuous (and international travel

                  • by swalve (1980968)
                    AIDS = Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
                  • by Khyber (864651)

                    "Odd, but I see AIDs as a great example"

                    Uh, AIDS isn't a disease, it's the aftermath of a disease.

                    There is no AIDS virus, only HIV.

                    "Take the pre-1900s STDs like syphilis. Like AIDs it was 100% deadly – pre-antibiotics."

                    Before antibiotics, there was Salvarsan, and it worked. Try again.

                    "Disease that kill like AIDs"

                    AIDS is not a disease, it is the end result of the actual disease itself!

                    • by Khyber (864651)

                      The definition of disease as used by most Wikipedia writers is incorrect and does not fall in line with medical terminology.

                      AIDS is a SYNDROME, HIV is the disease. Please learn your medical terminology before trying to use it.

            • For instance the black death that wiped out 30% of Europe in the 1300s didn't become less virulent. But that is because its primary host was rodents, not humans, and there is evidence that it became less lethal to rodents as it spread.

              That little factoid makes me uneasy. The primary host of this newest bird flu is birds, apparently many different species of birds. And it is so well adapted to the birds that it doesn't even cause them to exhibit symptoms. Combined with what I remember reading about wild migratory birds passing viruses between Asia, Europe, and North America, I feel very uneasy.

          • Tamiflu works but you have to be in hospital to get it these days. Back in the day "someone I know" ordered it off the Internet. I understand it can stop the flu in 2 hours and is nothing short of amazing. I am sure it is reserved for people who have viral pneumonia at least for Influenza.
        • by Khyber (864651)

          " Ferret are the best animal model we have"

          For testing against humans? Wrong.

          And from that, I'm immediately dismissing this sensationalist bullshit.

          • ok then, what is the best animal model for influenza?

            • by Khyber (864651)

              The pig, which is why we fucking have it as one source of human organs - compatibility.

              • by ivano (584883)
                Why has heart compatibility have anything to do with immune system compatibility? Ferrets have a similar immune system to us than pigs do. Pigs on the other hand have a heart as big as a human - ferret hearts are too small. If ferrets had bigger hearts we'll be using them.
        • by sjames (1099)

          It's not likely a 25% kill rate. It could easily be that of the 1% of cases that are serious enough to warrant any action at all other than taking an OTC remedy, 25% are fatal, for a total death rate of 0.25%.

        • by Genda (560240)

          Ah... a killer flu that's nothing to sneeze at... I see what you did there.

      • by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday May 26, 2013 @04:01PM (#43828589)

        In the experiment, ferrets are together for hours with forced airflow under temperature and humidity conditions that favor viral transmission, she says. “I don’t think this is what happens in real life.”

        She obviously doesn't take mass transit.

        • by Khyber (864651)

          "She obviously doesn't take mass transit."

          Obviously, neither do you. Many modes of transport use HEPA air filtration, and some even now have graphene filters that nothing larger than a salt ion can get through.

          • by AK Marc (707885)
            The airplanes have gotten much better, which is why I didn't point to them, but I have taken the subway in NYC, Paris, Washington DC, and others. If not in the train, then certainly on the platform. But the trains I was on were of a vintage HEPA didn't exist when they were made, and given the layers of graffiti, it doesn't look like they've ever been fixed, updated, or serviced. Buses I've been on vary wildly.
      • by aXis100 (690904)

        Yean, not at all like cramming 250 people into a flying aluminium tube for 12+ hours with poor air circulation.

        • by Khyber (864651)

          Spoken like someone that doesn't know anything about plane air filtration systems.

          I'll give you a hint: HEPA + UVC.

          Not one fucking thing survives, and that's one reason why the air has the smell it has - ozone mixed with human.

          • I haven't noticed any filters between me and the other passengers. It's nice that the nasties can't come round for second pass but that's sod all use if the twat in the seat behind me is spraying snot everywhere.

            • by Khyber (864651)

              There are intakes all around you and a large filtration system on-board. The primary cause of 'illness' from an airplane are caused by chemical reactions of the ozone. That large amount of ozone in the air effectively sterilizes it at the cost of you getting a headache or feeling nauseous, or creating a couple of byproducts out of the oils on your skin.

      • by Xyrus (755017)

        ...In the experiment, ferrets are together for hours with forced airflow under temperature and humidity conditions that favor viral transmission, she says. “I don’t think this is what happens in real life.”

        Those conditions happen all the time. Schools, planes, buses, trains, etc.

        It's true that we aren't ferrets. We'll maybe politicians are.

      • Exactly FUD. Ferret != Human.and Conditions ferrets in != usual human conditions. There’s no guarantee the virus will spread similarly from person to person, says Ana Fernandez-Sesma, a viral immunologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. In the experiment, ferrets are together for hours with forced airflow under temperature and humidity conditions that favor viral transmission, she says. “I don’t think this is what happens in real life.”

        Exactly SCIENCE. We now have evidence of a deadly bird flu that can spread thru the air between mammals.
        I guess if you believe evolution has stopped in the past few months, then there is nothing at all to worry about.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Actually, this is pretty serious. Most of the people who were infected became critically ill and the method of death was due to sepsis, respiratory distress, or organ failure. Contrast this with SARS where only the very young or very old became critically ill. This new virus also has twice the fatality rate of SARS and can be spread by animals we use for food.

      Your snark is unwarranted. Just because the number is low right now doesn't mean that it is stable or controlled. And the research on ferrets was desi

      • by mysidia (191772)

        Actually, this is pretty serious. Most of the people who were infected became critically ill and the method of death was due to sepsis, respiratory distress, or organ failure

        It is only a cause of concern -- it means that the pathogen has high virulence; it likely kills quickly, which may be resulting in the virus not spreading efficiently. There are plenty of viruses that have high virulence and kill all their victims but aren't a threat -- just a very high impact threat to the small number of people a

    • by sjames (1099)

      I might be more alarmed if I was a ferret.

  • Hey editors (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Sunday May 26, 2013 @03:36PM (#43828477)

    Just a friendly bit of constructive criticism... if you'd just read the entire summary, you'd have found out that the quote taken from the actual story pretty much directly contradicts both the sensationalistic title and the sensationalistic lead-in.

    You don't have to read the articles; but please, at least glance at the summary that was submitted.

    • by ecotax (303198)

      As for the title, they simply copypasted it, so whatever there's wrong with it, should primarily be blamed on the writer of the article.

      • They're editors. Their job is to check it before it's posted. Regardless as to whether the submitter was at fault, they're also at fault.
  • I am not a ferret.
  • Hey if you want more funds for your kind of research and/or development, this is what gets some bucks shaken out of the money tree. Since most everybody out there is either unequipped to properly evaluate risks, Stossel did a nice piece on this, it usually works. Bugs (insect, bacteria, viral, or even surveillance), terrorism, ecological disasters, cyber this or that, whatever. Film at 11! Or worse, yet another FUD piece on /.
  • by Scarletdown (886459) on Sunday May 26, 2013 @03:57PM (#43828567) Journal

    The flu to watch out for will be one discovered to be carried by wolves. You will know it by the symptoms of the wolves' eyes getting all weepy and the infected wolves whimpering and crying constantly. It will be quite ironic that the flu that will finally get us will be the Crying Wolf Flu that everyone will ignore due to so many alarmist warnings of other strains of flu over the years that ended up not being such a big worldwide threat after all.

  • Just stop, please (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WillyWanker (1502057) on Sunday May 26, 2013 @04:01PM (#43828585)

    Please stop teasing me with talk of a massive population-thinning plague this planet desperately needs. It gets my hopes up, only to later be dashed by hearing only a few dozen people ultimately die. Disappointing to say the least.

    • Have you checked yourself into the nearest psychiatric facility to help deal with these genocidal tendencies and impulses?

      Because you need to.

      Now.

      • by jamesh (87723)

        Have you checked yourself into the nearest psychiatric facility to help deal with these genocidal tendencies and impulses?

        Because you need to.

        Now.

        The _only_ way humanity is going to survive is if very soon there are a lot less people on the planet, or if we turn the comfort level _way_ down. And when a president says "the american way of life is not negotiable" or something like that, you know the latter ain't gonna happen. The way we are living is unsustainable. Hoping for a plague to wipe everyone out certainly sounds like insanity, but no more so than the alternative.

        And anyway, psych facilities are mostly filled with people who are a danger to th

        • You could supply the total electricity that humanity uses by covering a single digit percentage of the Sahara desert with solar panels. For the hard of thinking, I'm not saying that this is the plan, just that we have a huge abundance of energy. We also have a huge abundance of food. We have in fact a huge abundance of everything except fossil fuels which were never a good idea and which are all easily replaceable, so no, the sky is not falling and anyone sincerely wishing death upon large numbers of people

    • by sdsucks (1161899)

      You are one sick fucking sub-human being.

  • The end of the world (Score:4, Interesting)

    by blogagog (1223986) on Sunday May 26, 2013 @04:18PM (#43828645)
    The older I get, the more I realize that there are very many people in the world who just don't feel comfortable unless there is some horrible world-ending danger looming over mankind. And it's usually wildly overblown. Here's a short list of all of the things that are supposed to kill me - nuclear war, nuclear power, the end of the ozone, the end of the rain forests, global warming, and pandemics, just to name a few. I'm sure I left out a ton of false armageddons from that list. Overfishing, fertilizers, the end of oil and gas, and clear cutting forests are also supposed not to kill, but to cause us irreparable harm some time between 50 years ago and 'just around the corner'. You can only cry wolf so many times before no one believes you. I'm getting so cynical, I may take up smoking.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Just because there's a bunch of shit doesn't mean that shit don't stink. There may be some stunted souls as you describe, but their comfort has little to do with reality - only their feelings about it. For you to dismiss the message because you don't like some of the people who carry it is frankly stupid.

      It's not necessary for any of the things you list to be world-ending. It's only necessary that separately and in combination that the effects of them impinge on things as they are; any one of them might

    • Perhaps. Though I'd much rather have alarmists that raise our awareness, than live in ignorance. At least with awareness we can do something about those wannabe Armageddons. Hopefully, people with the ability to think critically will be able to accurately work out which threats are more serious so we can solve those problems first.
  • by Nyder (754090) on Sunday May 26, 2013 @04:29PM (#43828681) Journal

    I saw the title and said to myself, "No shit flu can spread from person to person."

    Then they talk about "bird" flu and say it spreads from ferret to ferret. I've had a public school education, so maybe I missed the day where they told us ferrets were birds and not mammals.

    • by NoKaOi (1415755) on Sunday May 26, 2013 @04:54PM (#43828777)

      I saw the title and said to myself, "No shit flu can spread from person to person."

      Then they talk about "bird" flu and say it spreads from ferret to ferret. I've had a public school education, so maybe I missed the day where they told us ferrets were birds and not mammals.

      The connection with ferrets is that ferrets and humans share the same "human influenza" virus and can pass it on to each other. So, that means that if ferrets can get this type of influenza and pass it on, there is a reasonable probability that humans can too. That doesn't mean this is an "OMG were all gonna die!!!" sort of thing, it just means that this particular test shows a reasonable probably that humans could spread the virus from each other, and points out that the test were done under ideal (ideal to the virus) conditions.

      Frankly I don't think the title is overly sensationalistic, nor is the quoted part of the summary, but the part "how the bird flu may wipe us out" is sensationalistic, inaccurate, and the editor who put it in there should be fired or sent over to Fox News.

  • by UltraZelda64 (2309504) on Sunday May 26, 2013 @05:58PM (#43829011)

    ...there exists a virus that can reproduce and spread from one host to another. What an amazing scientific discovery!

    Tests Show That Deadly New Flu Could Spread Among People

    Something tells me that they're using the term "deadly" just for sensationalism as usual, in the same way that they're making it seem like such a big deal as if it's breaking news that a virus is capable of spreading from human to human...

  • I can only hope (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Sunday May 26, 2013 @06:14PM (#43829089) Journal
    I just hope it only wipes out the people who write these kinds of sensationalistic articles.
  • It's all a government plot, aka Captain Trips to end life on Earth as we know it.

  • by jmichaelg (148257) on Sunday May 26, 2013 @11:15PM (#43830259) Journal

    In 2003 when a bird flu was sweeping through Asia, Maurice Hilleman [wikipedia.org], a 20th century virologist who created more vaccines than all other virologists combined, said it would not turn into a pandemic. He turned out to be right: the pandemic didn't happen. During his career, Hilleman noticed that the flu pandemics have all been been associated with H1, H2 and H3 hemoglutens. The other 14 hemogluten groups, H4 through H17, haven't been associated with pandemics. Hemogluten is a protein that enables the virus to attach to the throat, and the flu virus has 17 different variants, numbered H1, H2, ...H17.

    The other thing Hilleman noticed was that each of the flu pandemics has been separated from its former instance by 68 years. H2 caused pandemics in 1889 and 1957. H3 caused pandemics in 1900 and 1968 and H1 caused pandemics in 1918 and 1986. Based on that pattern, Hilleman thought the next flu pandemic would occur in 2025 when most people who were alive during the H2 1957 pandemic have died.

    A key difference between the 1957 instance and the 2025 instance is the fact that the US no longer has any company willing to manufacture vaccines here - they're all overseas. Hilleman spotted the 1957 outbreak before anyone else did and bulldozed the design and manufacture of an effective vaccine in a matter of months. He knew the manufacturers personally and was able to coordinate them into gearing up the necessary production. A lot of what he did then would be impossible today given the FDA's increased power.

  • Let's call it "The Boy Who Cried Wolf Flu", or "FUD" for short.

    Yes, the abbreviation makes perfect sense.

You've been Berkeley'ed!

Working...