Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Influenza: 2003 Bird flu

Hi, I'm Bird or Avian flu,
But I'm not the only bird flu!
People called me that when they found me in people.

I was first noticed in 2003, around Thailand.
Many birds were killed to try to stop my spread.
So far, I have been found in about 400 people.
I killed over 200 of them.

I don't usually move from person to person.
Some people think I have started to.

I used to be in the news a lot.
People don't about me as much anymore.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Influenza: 1968 Hong Kong Flu

Hi, I'm Hong Kong flu.
I started out as my 1957 friend.
In 1968 I went through antigen shift,
I then became H3N2 and spread.
I moved from China to Hong Kong.
I lasted for 2 years.

I was milder than my earlier flu friend.
Not as many people died.
I also came from mixing of human and bird strains.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Influenza: 1957 Asian Flu

Hi, I'm the H2N2 'Asian Flu'.
I am an Influenza A strain.

I started in Guizhou, China in early 1957.
I moved to Singapore, Hong Kong, and then to the rest of the world.
I hit the US and UK by the end of the year.
I lasted to 1958.

My first wave hit school kids.
My second wave hit the elderly.
I was milder than my 1918 friend,
But I still managed to kill over a million people.
People made a vaccine against me.

I came from antigen shift between wild ducks and people.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Influenza: 1918 Spanish Flu

I'm the influenza pandemic of 1918.
I was an influenza A virus H1N1 type flu.
I was called Spanish flu when I got to Spain early on.
In Spain I was called 'La Grippe'.

I had H1N1 that one no had seen before,
So no one was immune.

I spread all over the world at the end of WW1.

I went through the soldiers and then the rest of the world.
Some of my brother flu viruses killed the weak, the very young or very old.
I was deadliest to healthy young people.

I lasted for 2 years and killed 40 million people.
That's more than World War 1 and more than the black death!

Influenza: Drift and Shift

Hi again, Flu here.
We flu viruses change in 2 ways.

The first is called antigen drift.
These are small changes to our Ha and Na pieces.

The old flu vaccines can't find our new looks.

So each year a new vaccine is needed.

The second is called antigen shift.

We jump between animals like birds or pigs.
We get ourselves brand new Ha or Na pieces,
so we look like brand new viruses.

People usually don't have immunity to these new viruses.
This is one of ways we get 'influenza pandemics'

Antigen shift and drift 2

Influenza Virus

Hi, we are the Influenza Virus, or 'The Flu".
We are part of the Orthomyxoviridae family.

We come in types A, B and C.

We are one of the most well known viruses in the world.

We make you feel groggy and head heavy.
We cause cough, chills, fever, malaise and muscle aches.
We can also cause pneumonia.

We each have two special pieces of proteins.
These are Haemagglutinin (Ha) and Neuraminidase (Na).

Each piece has a number.

You can use these numbers to tell us apart.

We infect people, birds, horses and pigs.

Influenza special

This humble zoo keeper will be starting some flu-related posts with some special entries over the coming week. Stay tuned.