Browsing articles in "Blog"

Ebola and the WHO

Jul 27, 2014   //   by David   //   Blog, Pandemics  //  No Comments

Here is a really good article from the WHO website which gives excellent FAQs on Ebola.


Jul 15, 2014   //   by David   //   Blog, Pandemics  //  No Comments


Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a severe, often fatal, illness in humans with a fatality rate of up to 90%. The incubation period of the virus can range between 2 to 21 days. The outbreaks of the virus are primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests.

The EVD virus is introduced to the human population through close contact with blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals. Transmission then occurs by human-to-human direct contact with the virus over the incubation period. However, it can be transmitted through male semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery .

EVD is a severe acute viral illness often characterized by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. Progressing from these; vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding are likely to occur.

With no licensed vaccine available to treat Ebola, raising awareness is key to ensure people are protecting themselves. Personal hygiene is essential in this with regular hand washing and using gloves if there is any doubt you may be in contact with the virus. Contact with animals should be restricted and meats should be well cooked prior to eating.

Travellers are assured that the risk of developing the virus during a visit is extremely low. It is unlikely that the average traveller should come into direct contact with blood, secretions, organs or other body fluids. Travellers should be aware of where they can obtain medical assistance both whilst visiting the area and on return to their home country. If in any doubt then medical assistance should be contacted immediately.

I have attached a document which might be of use if you are concerned.



And now it is the ferrets….

Jun 15, 2014   //   by David   //   Blog, Pandemics  //  No Comments

All along we have known that pigs are the source of much risk in pandemics and of course the avian threat… but did you know that ferrets are also a problem?  I will confess, neither did I.

Here is a very scientific article on the subject.  It does mention, by the way, that the lab created a variant of the 1918 Spanish flu, I just hope they took great care…

The whole article can be found here:


  • Current circulating avian flu viruses encode proteins similar to the 1918 virus
  • A 1918-like virus composed of avian influenza virus segments was generated
  • The 1918-like virus is more pathogenic in mammals than an authentic avian flu virus
  • Seven amino acid substitutions were sufficient to confer transmission in ferrets


Wild birds harbor a large gene pool of influenza A viruses that have the potential to cause influenza pandemics. Foreseeing and understanding this potential is important for effective surveillance. Our phylogenetic and geographic analyses revealed the global prevalence of avian influenza virus genes whose proteins differ only a few amino acids from the 1918 pandemic influenza virus, suggesting that 1918-like pandemic viruses may emerge in the future.

To assess this risk, we generated and characterized a virus composed of avian influenza viral segments with high homology to the 1918 virus. This virus exhibited pathogenicity in mice and ferrets higher than that in an authentic avian influenza virus. Further, acquisition of seven amino acid substitutions in the viral polymerases and the hemagglutinin surface glycoprotein conferred respiratory droplet transmission to the 1918-like avian virus in ferrets, demonstrating that contemporary avian influenza viruses with 1918 virus-like proteins may have pandemic potential.