New viruses are one of the more prominent threats that mankind faces. With the H7N9 flu virus now spreading by human-to-human transmission, and the MERS Coronavirus spreading in the middle east and having a 50% mortality rate, it’s becoming increasingly possible for the contagion to spread across the globe.
With viruses continuously evolving, as we have seen with H7N9 jumping from animals to humans, we could literally be just a mutation away from a crisis similar to what the world saw during the H1N1 Spanish Flu variant pandemic of 1918, which infected half a billion people and killed an estimated 5% of the world’s population..
We don’t know a lot of things, including what the host is for this virus. Where it came from – has it come from animals… we really don’t know.
We don’t know how these patients are getting the virus; if it is from an animal and what sort of contact they’re having. We don’t know how well it transmits from patient to patient.
We also don’t know much about the variation of the virus. At the moment it doesn’t seem to be very well spread between people, but that may change as the virus evolves as it infects more people.
The potential [for global pandemic] is there for a number of viruses, like the H7N9 we saw break out earlier in the year. Based on what we know right now, the potential for pandemic is quite low… It’s not got the potential to spread very quickly between people. It’s a numbers game in transmission, and at the moment that’s not likely to happen.
But we need to be vigilant, we need to keep looking at the virus and keep studying its genetic signatures and see if it changes and adapts and becomes more able to spread rapidly and through people.
There will be more infections, but not a vast and exponential rise unless the virus itself changes.
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By the time the spread of contagion becomes mainstream news it’ll be too late, and will have likely infected scores of people all over the planet, making it nearly impossible to contain.
Keeping abreast of developments, transmission rates, and the spread of deadly viruses is one of the only preventative measures we can take.
Once infection is widespread, activating a Pandemic Preparedness Plan will be your only saving grace, so be sure to have one in place before hand.
As noted by virologist Ian MacKay, the probability of a contagion with MERS Coronavirus or H7N9 is low, but nonetheless possible.
Be ready just in case the situation goes critical.