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Showing posts from May, 2006

Host Species Barrier to Influenza Virus Infections

The title of this entry was taken from a paper written by Thijs Kuiken, Edward C. Holmes, John McCauley, Guus F. Rimmelzwaan, Catherine S. Williams, and Bryan T. Grenfell. This paper appeared in SCIENCE Volume 312, pp 394 – 397. If you have the gumption to really know how viral infections cross the species barrier, then this is the paper for you. It’s written as a “perspective” rather than as a technical publication, which means there isn’t a bunch of jargon in it.

You can also contact the authors of the paper at

A particularly interesting quote taken from the paper:

“It is well established that, as the proportion of susceptibles in the population, s, drops (as individuals become infected, then recover), the number of secondary cases per infection, R, also drops: R = s * R0. If R is less than 1, as is currently the case for H5N1 virus in humans, an infection will not cause a major epidemic.” (pg. 312) The value, R0, “is the number of secondary cases produced when a…


Have you seen the television shows lately on The Bird Flu Pandemic? You can’t miss them; they were running like gangbusters for a couple of weeks. Apparently people are going to wash-up on the shores of Hawaii when this bird flu reaches pandemic proportions. Whales look out, you’ve got competition from beached humans!

There have been past cases of apparent bird flu transmission from human to human. These cases have been investigated in Southeast Asia. In one case reported in a SCIENCE magazine article, a family member contracted the bird flu while caring for another family member who was sick, and eventually died from it. The other care-giving person in this case survived the evil and devastating bird flu infection. This was reported in 2005. Now, CNN reports a “cluster” of 7 family members all perishing at the wrath of H5N1. Guess what? The family was living in “very cramped quarters … many living in [sic] one room.”

To date there have been 124 deaths links to H5N1. How many peop…

Me Too Terrorists

The latest tape from Osama bin Laden claims originality in their plot to use airplanes as weapons in the 9/11 terrorist attack against the United States. Anyone who has read some history on the Nazi war plans to attack America will certainly roll their eyes at Osama’s blatant theft and disregard for historical truth.

Towards the end of the Reich’s reign in Germany, Hitler’s cabinet planned an elaborate scheme to send airplanes to America on a bomber run. The technology at the time was for wooden frame aircraft, so the Nazi’s realized that they could not get a bomber across the Atlantic and return it home. Hitler didn’t care about that detail, so he decided to let the bombers crash into the skyscrapers of New York City. Thus was born the America Bomber project in war torn Germany.

Needless to say, Hitler’s plan failed miserably. There was no German technology that would allow them to carry any payload and fuel enough to make the bombers lethal in their strike. Even with an attempt to mak…