By KATE WALKER
WASHINGTON, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- Amidst growing concern over China's ability to control outbreaks of avian influenza, a report published in the online journal Respiratory Research Friday revealed that an H5N1 pandemic may disproportionately affect the young and healthy.
Hong Kong scientists studying the virus have discovered that H5N1 attacks its host by overwhelming the immune system in a "storm" of inflammatory proteins, 10 times more than in the annual "seasonal" influenza.
The affected proteins are those responsible for regulating the immune system's response to an attack. In the case of H5N1 infection, the drastically altered balance of proteins in the immune system leads to "an uncontrolled inflammatory response in the lung" and may explain the lung inflammation so common in sufferers of bird flu.
The study suggests that the young and healthy may be more susceptible to an avian-influenza pandemic, as their immune systems put up more of a fight against the disease, leading to the "storms" outlined in the report.
British insurers are concerned that they may be unable to cope with a bird-flu pandemic, especially if it affects those between 30 and 50, as that is the demographic most likely to hold life-insurance policies.
Although British insurance companies are the first to express concerns over the financial impact of avian influenza on their industry, today's Respiratory Research report indicates it will soon be a matter of global concern.
-- New Scientist has reported that China's Liaoning province has reported three new outbreaks in the past 24 hours and that there are indications of a suspected human case in the region.
However, 121 people in Liaoning province who complained of fever have been found not to be infected with any form of avian influenza.
-- Contrary to Thursday's reports that the two birds found infected with a form of avian influenza in Kuwait were not carrying a dangerous strain of the disease, a wild flamingo was found to have suffered from the deadly, high pathogenic strain of H5N1.
The bird did not die of bird flu but was destroyed by Kuwaiti authorities.
-- An 18-month-old Bangkok toddler has been confirmed as Thailand's 21st case of avian influenza.
The boy was taken to hospital as soon as he displayed flu-like symptoms and is said to be recovering.
-- Also in Thailand, newly appointed Public Health Minister Pinij Jarusombat spoke out against bird-flu cover-ups and said that any public official found guilty of such an attempt would face severe penalties.
Under the new policies, in place since Nov. 4, doctors found guilty of falsifying patient information with regard to avian influenza would be charged with breach of conduct and considered in breach of medical ethics.
The minister was responding to earlier charges by the Senate Public Health Commission that coverups had taken place in Thailand.
-- Rockeby, a Singaporean company, has launched 10-minute bird-flu testing kits, it was announced Friday.
Although the World Health Organization does not currently endorse any tests for avian influenza, it plans to standardize international testing for the disease.
An American test mentioned in Wednesday's Fluwrap will be released through the WHO in January. When asked about the Rockeby test, WHO officials declined to comment.
Copyright 2005 by United Press International. All Rights Reserved.
It seems that the SARS virus did the same thing. Most people died of pneumonia caused by the person's own white blood immune cells.
Cortico-steroids, which suppresses the immune system slightly, was the most effective treatment for SARS.
OMG - it is the 1918 flu. That is exactly what happened - it killed all of the young and healthy, thus ending WWI.
Yes, the Black Flu of 1918 did exactly the same thing. Those that died in our family were in their early twenties, one a brand-new bride.