Wednesday, February 15, 2006

May the Avian [Flu] Virus (H5N1) not Mutate- Amen!

Ever since the Avian flu started ravaging some Asian countries in 2003, I've been wondering how Nigerian authorities will handle the menace when it arrives in the country. Some projection showed then that its just a matter of months for the virus to find its way into the Nigerian stock of birds.

That time came last week, or sometime before then (since nobody knows for sure when the virus arrived)- the first cases of the bird flu were confirmed in northern Nigeria. The H5N1, a highly pathogethenic strain of the avian flu virus has arrived.

Having the virus in the nation is no big deal; how the virus is handled is the big deal, and it appears the authorities in Nigeria have yet to get a good handle on the problem.

"Panic selling of birds infected with bird flu has helped spread the H5N1 virus in Nigeria", states the Reuters. And I'm not surprised and neither should anybody familiar with Nigeria. There aren’t clear modalities for compensation, and that is the only way owners of infected chicken will be more inclined to destroy their stock.

I have also seen pictures of people disposing infected chicken wearing just face masks. No gloves, or any protective clothing what-so-ever. This is disturbing, is just like playing Russian Roulette with ones live.

At the moment, the only way humans can get infected is through birds. The greatest concern is a genetic mutation of some sort that will permit person-to-person transmission which could then lead to a global pandemic that kills millions of people.

Going the rapid spread of the virus in Nigeria and the lackadaisical government intervention, one can only pray for some divine intervention that will minimize the transmission of the virus to humans and prevent the much dreaded genetic mutation.

This is one prayer we can’t take lightly.