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					Is There Going To Be An Asian Flu Pandemic?

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The last Asian flu pandemic occurred in 1957. It is estimated that
between 1 million people and 4 million people were killed by the virus.
In 2004 3,700 samples were sent out to labs around the world in a ghastly

flu, influenza, asian flu, bird flu, avian flu, H5N1 flu virus,

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The last Asian flu pandemic occurred in 1957. It is estimated that
between 1 million people and 4 million people were killed by the virus.

Fast forward to October 2004 when an American lab sent out stored samples
of the deadly strain of Asian flu to different labs all over the world.
By some kind of administrative error some 3,700 samples of the 1957 Asian
flu virus were sent out to labs around the world. The US scrambled to fix
this terrible error but because the labs had expected to receive a much
more normal sample of flu virus for testing they did not treat the sample
with the care that the strain they received deserved. It is unlikely that
all the samples were retrieved.

How could this have happened?

The College of American Pathologists, from time to time, sends out
different viruses to labs worldwide. They do this so that these labs can
test to see how well their vaccines are coping with the expected
influenza strains. In order to make the testing accurate, the labs are
not told what strain of virus they are going to receive. Only the CAP
knows what they are sending out to the testing labs. The College of
American Pathologists thought that they were sending out a regular old
Influenza A virus but instead they sent out one of the most deadly
viruses in human history: the Asian flu.

If this Asian flu had escaped into the population the consequences would
have been very serious. Nobody born since 1968 would have any mmunity to
the virus, the effects would likely be at least as bad as they were in
1957 when people had had the chance to buld up some immunity from the
virus' ancestors.

The incident was caused by an administrative error although the details
have yet to be made public. How could 3,700 samples of Asian flu be put
out into the world by accident? Samples were sent to Asia, the Middle
East, North and South America as well as Europe. It only took one lab
worker to have an accident, or for a lab to dispose of the samples
incorrectly and the genie would have been out of the bottle.
The most chilling aspect of the issue was that because of the lack of
knowledge at the receiving labs, they did not take the care that they
should have. Asian flu should be kept in extreme containment. Because the
kits normally contain a relatively harmless strain of flu, they do not
receive great security.

This incident tends to put the curent avian (bird) flu scare into
perspective. H5N1 (avian) flu does not spread from human to human, only
from birds to humans or other animals. As such, whilst it is sensible to
be concerned about the bird flu issue, the real threat comes from the
kind of man-made mistake of October 2004 when a deadly infectious disease
was carelessly handled. This kind of error can happen at any time and
would have devatating consequences. Bird flu is unlikely to ever make the
jump across species and even now, vaccines are almost ready to protect
humans against the H5N1 flu virus.

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