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Assessing Environmental Health Issues Related to Avian Flu

Pose THREE indepth questions or requests for clarification to the following statement:

A connection between avian influenza infection and food sources was made in Thailand when 147 of 418 tigers fed raw chicken carcasses contacted H5N1 avian influenza and suffered pneumonia. This suggests that ingestion of raw infected birds could be a route of exposure in mammals (Weir, 2005). The live virus has been found in imported duck, although is not thought to be a public health risk if proper cooking methods are used (World Health Organization, Avian Influenza, 2005). Avian influenza is currently a health risk for animals and humans who come in contact with feces or respiratory secretions of infected live animals. 112 cases and 57 fatalities have occurred in Asia since December 2003. Weir reports that the "The risk of human to human transmission appears very limited currently" and based this statement on and an investigation of 3 families in Vietnam and Thailand where family members cared for infected people. The risk of a pandemic stems from the nature of the avian flu virus. The virus mutates easily and could change in a stepwise manner to allow the virus to improve its ability to transmit to humans. The avian flu virus meets two of the three prerequisites of a possible pandemic. One, it is a novel virus and two it can cause severe illness in healthy young adults. The third is that it must efficiently transmit from one human to another causing community wide outbreaks(Weir, 2005).

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Questions:

(1) Was any research conducted on the risk of human-human transmission besides the study of the 3 families in Vietnam and Thailand? This seems like a very limited number of families for such a study, ...

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