Speaker Name(s): Donald E. Low, MD, FRCPC
Description: The H5N1 strain of avian influenza virus first erupted in its highly pathogenic form in 1997, but then did not appear until 2003 when it began spreading among poultry flocks in Southeast Asia, eventually affecting more than 52 countries and causing more than 200 cases in humans with a 50% mortality rate. This unprecedented outbreak among poultry flocks and successful transmission to humans creates a scenario where pandemic influenza in humans is possible. The H5N1 disease seen in humans has a number of characteristics in common with the H1N1 that caused the 1918 Spanish flu. If it successfully adapts so that it can transmit from person to person, it could not only have severe human health consequences, but also could have a major impact on the world economy.