Swine Flu and Bird Flu
With the recent epidemic of swine flu hating virtually all parts of the world there has been much discussion as to the relation between swine flu and bird flu. They are of course both members of the influenza family of virus which is extremely contagious between humans and can spread over entire continents in a matter of weeks. The exact relationship and similarity between the two strains is their ability to cross between species that is from pigs to humans and from avians to humans. This cross species jumping is what makes swine flu and bird flu so potentially dangerous. Swine flu has successfully jumped from pigs to humans and then mutated into a new strain which passes from human to human. Luckily swine flu is in its current form not particularly dangerous just a more severe form of the standard flu which hits every year.
Bird flu on the other hand when actually contracted by humans is one of the most lethal diseases known to man with mortality rates approaching 80% according to some sources. However Bird flu can only be passed between birds and from birds to humans, as of yet were flu cannot be passed from one human to another and thus is not extremely contagious and cannot spread as quickly as it potentially could.
The real danger comes into this when you consider how viruses work. Viruses tend to mutate quickly and to recombine with other viruses to form new strains that have properties of both. Scientists have become fairly certain that if bird flu and swine flu are combined together in the same host species namely humans the resulting super virus could have devastating effects. Basically, if the deadliness of the word flu could be combined with contagiousness of the swine flu we would have an outbreak the likes of which we have not seen for decades. The last time such a forceful virus was seen was the great influenza outbreaks in the 1930s and 40s. By some counts this outbreak killed nearly a quarter of the world’s population. With the boom in public transportation spanning the globe it is quite easy to see how a new epidemic of much more deadly characteristics might span the globe instantaneously and what about the norm as part of the human race. There is much to be frightened about.
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