Report from Bloomberg:
"Bird flu killed three members of a family in Egypt, pushing the number of fatalities worldwide this year to 79, more than reported in the previous three years combined.
The Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population confirmed that the H5N1 strain of avian influenza had infected the three, who belong to an extended family in Gharbiyah province, 80 kilometers (50 miles), northwest of the capital, Cairo, the World Health Organization said in a statement yesterday.
The patients had all been in contact with sick ducks, WHO said. Egypt has struggled to control H5N1 outbreaks in poultry, first reported in February, leading to at least 18 human cases, including 10 deaths.
Diseased birds increase the opportunities for human infection and provide chances for H5N1 to mutate into a form more dangerous to people. Millions could die if H5N1 becomes easily transmissible between people, sparking a lethal pandemic.
The H5N1 virus is known to have infected 261 people in 10 countries in the past three years, killing 157 of them, WHO said yesterday. Last year, 42 fatalities were confirmed, after 32 in 2004 and four in 2003. Six of every 10 reported cases have been fatal and a majority of cases has occurred among children and young adults.
Since July, 26 human cases have been reported in four countries, compared with 88 infections in eight countries in the first half of the year.
"In the second half of 2006, there was a steep decline in the number of case reports, although similar declines occurred in 2004 and 2005, but were then followed by resurgences," the influenza team at the European Centre for Disease Surveillance and Control in Stockholm wrote in a Dec. 21 report in Eurosurveillance Weekly.
Females are over-represented among H5N1 patients aged 10-29 years, possibly because it is usually young people and women who look after domestic poultry, the influenza team said.
Indonesia, with 74 human H5N1 cases to date, including 57 fatalities, is the country worst affected by the virus. Outside Asia, Egypt has the most cases."
Yep. Counting up all three years H5N1 has been active in human populations we get a global mortality rate of ~60%.
In Egypt the mortality rate is around 44%, and Indonesia has a rate sitting around 77%.
It's quite clear to me that this is something to be worried about. I don't know how anyone can spin this situation in any way other than "god-damned frightening."