Self-Inflicted Pandemic?

Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice. I say it might just be a raging epidemic arising from the virulent combination of modern farming practices, dense populations, and global culture.

Is the H7N9 scare a harbinger of how it will go? Foreign Policy ponders:

At this writing, 108 cases of H7N9 flu, as the new virus has been dubbed, have been confirmed, and one asymptomatic carrier of the virus has been identified. Twenty-two of the cases have proven fatal, and nine people have been cured of the new flu. The remainder are still hospitalized, many in severe condition suffering multiple organ failures. As the flu czar of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Keiji Fukuda, terselyput it to reporters last week, “Anything can happen. We just don’t know.”

On this tenth anniversary of China’s April 2003 admission that the SARS virus had spread across that country — under cloak of official secrecy, spawning a pandemic of a previously unknown, often lethal disease — Beijing finds itself once again in a terrible position via-a-vis the microbial and geopolitical worlds.  In both the SARS and current H7N9 influenza cases, China watched the microbe’s historic path unfold during a period of enormous political change. And the politics got in the way of appropriate threat assessment.

Well worth the full read.

Influenzas Compared

There are a lot of worries about the recent outbreak of H7N9 virus in China. Want to know how it stacks up against other deadly viruses when it comes to what species it can infect, and how deadly it is?

Or course you do, and, happily, there is an infographic for that. And it should be enough to make you re-think the human relationship with pigs and chickens (click image for full size):