thanks again to DarkSyde: two new Lemur species @ science blogger Afarensis (see: Australopithecus afarensis, aka "Lucy") — good quotes, good stuff & a good science news feed - "The Prion Anomaly" caught my eye. reading about PRION wondered if it was related in any way to H5N1 & found more interesting links at Above Top Secret News Network: Tamiflu & cyclones. just in case you don't go past the fold, think this comment extremely relevant: "The way I have come to see what's happening is this - We have changed our environment - substantially, chemically, and biologically - and now it's changing us - something that is necessary for our survival. We are part of the environment - a component and inextricable part of the larger system - and need to be in harmony it. Microbes (and prions) are the 'mediators' between complex life and the environment, or larger system. So-called 'disease' is simply transition, painful as it may be."
UPDATE :: after digesting this (no pun, honest), think key point from tamiflu article mentioned above is this: There has been human-to-human transmission. What everybody is watching for is SUSTAINED human-to-human transmission. And in Viet Nam/Cambodia, there have been "clusters" of infections that would indicate a sustained human-to-human transmission. But it hasn't been confirmed. see: WHO pandemic phases.
What about the pandemic risk? (WHO) A pandemic can start when three conditions have been met: a new influenza virus subtype emerges; it infects humans, causing serious illness; and it spreads easily and sustainably among humans. The H5N1 virus amply meets the first two conditions: it is a new virus for humans (H5N1 viruses have never circulated widely among people), and it has infected more than 100 humans, killing over half of them. No one will have immunity should an H5N1-like pandemic virus emerge. All prerequisites for the start of a pandemic have therefore been met save one: the establishment of efficient and sustained human-to-human transmission of the virus.
good link explaining evolving WHO verbiage:
By early 2005, these clusters account for almost one third of H5N1 cases. In Indonesia, the number of H5N1 patients in familial clusters grew to about two thirds of cases. The initial 15 clusters were described in a recent CDC/WHO publication. At that time, WHO changed wording in their characterization of the H5N1 outbreak. They had indicated that there was little evidence for human-to-human transmission. This changed to little evidence for efficient human-to-human transmission, acknowledging the growing number of familial cases which involved human-to-human transmission. Recently, the size and number of these clusters grew, and WHO again changed their description from a lack of evidence for efficient human-to-human transmission to a lack of evidence for sustained human-to-human transmission. Although this terminology suggests the increased frequency has been noted by WHO, public comments and media reports still leave the impression that human-to-human transmission of H5N1 is rare or non-existent. This impression is particularly misleading at the present time because a genetic change has been noted in H5N1 from the index case in Turkey.( Collapse )