Are the Spanish Flu Epidemic and H5N1 Bird Flu related medically?

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Offline rosalind dna

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I wonder if you could help me answer a question that I've been thinking about for a few years, it's this:

I do know just how fatal the Spanish Flu epidemic was at the end of the First World War because the people, who died were undernourished so that more people died from Spanish Flu epidemic than in the actual war itself.

Also I've heard that the H5N1 bird flu might be from the same or similar bacterial viruse that the Spanish Flu came from, is this true??

Including an aunt of mine, (Elsie Duval on 1/1/1919, she was the wife of Hugh Franklin).

Thanks Rosalind
« Last Edit: 29/07/2008 17:38:52 by rosalind dna »
Rosalind Franklin was my first cousin and one my life's main regrets is that I never met this brilliant and beautiful lady.
She discovered the Single DNA Helix in 1953, then it was taken by Wilkins without her knowledge or agreeement.


Offline stevewillie

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Hi Rosalind,

I don't know what you mean by 'bacterial' virus. There is a bacterial species called 'haemophilus influenzae', but, other than the name, it has nothing to with the viral infections you're asking about.There are also viruses that infect bacteria called "phage" viruses, but, as far as I know, no influenza type virus is a phage. Both the 1918 virus and the current bird flu virus are influenza A viruses. They are typed by their surface antigens H and N (hemagglutinin and neurominidase). The 1918 virus was H1N1 and, as you note, the bird flu is H5N1, so both share the N1 surface antigen. So far, the H5N1 strain has not shown a high degree of infectivity in humans and, as far as I know, no human to human transmission has been documented. However, that could change. The two viruses are related and influenza has a notorious ability to mutate. So the short answer is that: yes the viruses are related and there is a real possibility that the H5N1 strain could mutate into a strain that will allow human to human transmission. So far, its not known just how this might occur or what the profile of the new virus might be (probably not H1N1) but the possibility of another pandemic is real. Sorry for the bad news.

« Last Edit: 12/09/2008 03:22:18 by stevewillie »