Avian Flu and Other Zoonotic Diseases
Everyone seems on edge about the latest outbreak of avian flu. People in China are told to kill their poultry in order to keep the virus from spreading. Meanwhile people in the United States watch on in fear that the avian flu will come to their shores. So what exactly is all the hubbub about? After all, every winter millions of people come down with bird flu.
Origin of Influenza
Influenza, the term, came into use around 1504, though it had little to do with the virus. It came from the word: influence. At the time, influence meant: the ethereal power of the stars acting on men. It was basically a supernatural way of explaining the effects of disease on people at the time. During a particularly nasty outbreak of the flu in Europe during 1743, the term was officially attached to the name of the disease. 96 years later, the term was shortened to just: flu.
The flu, itself, is a whole family of viruses called Orthomyxovirids. They are a diverse family that are commonly found in the guts of birds. The specific type of viruses that infect birds, are called type A flu. It was one of these type As that was believed...