Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Equinox: Beating Bird Flu

Last night there was a chilling Channel 4, Equinox programme on Bird Flu. It wasn't just alarmist; it showed the impressive work being done by scientists to understand the virus, which involved looking at tissue samples saved from 1918. The "Spanish Flu" (really bird flu) epidemic then killed up to 100 million worldwide, but up to now there have been very few books or TV documentaries about this, compared with the massive coverage of WWI, which killed far fewer people:

"The world is preparing for a new natural disaster. As the deadly H5N1 bird flu spreads across the planet, scientists fear it could mutate into a human disease. If it evolves the ability to spread from human to human the result could be global devastation.

In an Equinox Special, Channel 4 follows the story of the world’s top flu experts and their race against time to understand the virus, and so prevent a pandemic.

The key to stopping a new flu pandemic could lie buried with the victims of the worst flu disaster in recorded history. As many as 50 million people died in the great Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, itself a bird flu outbreak.

Understanding the 1918 pandemic not only gives a chilling insight into what a modern outbreak could be like, it also provides scientists with the extraordinary possibility of stopping H5N1 before it kills millions of people today. Will they get there in time?

Bird Flu

What do bird flu, everyday flu and pandemic flu have in common? Is there really a new plague on the horizon?

The Spanish Flu of 1918

The flu virus of 1918 killed up to 100 million people worldwide. What made it so lethal? Virologists say it's vital to answer this question if we are to avoid another deadly pandemic."

Channel 4 Monday 13 March at 8pm



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