Bird Flu and Ebola Viruses: Crossing the Species Barrier Should Not Be Ignored

By

Home / Bird Flu and Ebola Viruses: Crossing the Species Barrier Should Not Be Ignored

This Mute Swan could harbour Bird Flu. Image by AcrylicArtist

Bird flu and Ebola are animal viruses with a proven ability to infect humans and kill them: They are zoonoses.

This week, scientists identified the strain of bird flu causing the North of England (Yorkshire), Nederlands and Germany outbreak as H5N8, which is related to the H5N1 bird flu virus and requires immediate action.

The H5N1, 2003 bird flu virus, is lethal, killing 60% of humans infected.

 

Bird Flu vs. Ebola: Zoonoses

Zoonoses are animal viruses which did not evolve to live in human hosts; but can infect humans. Zoonoses cause the most deadly infections known to humankind. Examples include rabies, Ebola, SARS and bird flu.

Both Ebola and bird flu replicate to overwhelm the human immune system which results in alarming mortality. The human immune system cannot deal with zoonoses.

  • Bird flu is difficult to contract, requiring direct contact with poultry, and has killed 400 people since 2003. Bird Flu viruses take advantage of highly intensive poultry farming on which humankind depends. Bird flu is readily spread by wild birds and has been quiescent since 2003. The current bird flu outbreak in Northern England and the Nederlands does not threaten humans, but we should not ignore the bird flu.
  • Ebola, equally difficult to contract, and as shown with previous outbreaks is significantly rare. Ebola is now proving lethal in West Africa. Scientists first identified Ebola, an animal virus , in 1976. They showed that most outbreaks were linked to bush-meat consumption in Central Africa. Population pressure on the jungles of southern Guinea where the 2014 Ebola outbreak started are extreme. New roads in virgin jungle clearances allowed Ebola to move from the jungle to West African city slums.

Ebola in West Africa, November 2014 Update

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have tentatively identified Patient Zero, a 2 year-old boy who died in Meliandou, Guinea, West Africa. This identification makes it possible to identify the location, distribution and finally confirm the species of Ebola causing the current outbreak.

The massive US aid for Liberia resulted in a reduction of Ebola deaths by November 2014, but in Sierra Leone, a lack of co-operation from the government thwarts the British effort to combat Ebola. The government did not release UK aid delivered to the airport in August 2014 until October 2014. Currently there are not enough beds for Ebola victims in Sierra Leone.

  • WHO declared Nigeria, with 20 cases and 8 Ebola deaths, Ebola-free in October 2014.
  • Senegal, with one Ebola case and no deaths, fully contained Ebola.
  • An Imam in a mosque in Mali died of Ebola; mourners touched the body and 4 contracted Ebola.

Why was this Ebola Outbreak out of Control?

The MSF warned WHO in April 2014 that the Ebola outbreak was out of control. The WHO dismissed this claim. In August, MSF stated that none of the organisations in the most affected countries could deal with the serious outbreak of Ebola. The massive US response in Liberia, the struggling UK aid to Sierra Leone, and French aid to Guinea have finally taken effect.

Conclusion: WHO now Fully in Control, November 2014

By October 27 there were 4,922 deaths from Ebola with 13,703 cases. In WHO’s Geneva, Switzerland, headquarters, October 28, 60 senior WHO officials track and monitor Ebola cases as they deploy more doctors, nurses and experts to the Ebola zone. This Ebola outbreak will be contained with WHO co-operation by January 2014.

The WHO have reacted in a timely manner and are aware of the potential threat in the European bird flu outbreak as well.

Leave a Comment