Syrian Paper Blames Israel for Bird Flu, Death of Arafat
Well, I wrote this post before I saw that Thomas the Wraith had posted the story, so I'll just post my analysis instead as well, if you all don't mind!! I am, of course, a virology nerd! Sorry T the W, wasn't trying to re-scoop you!
This absurd report could perhaps shed some light on just how widespread the H5N1 variant strain of avain influenza is in the more state-controlled and less cooperative Middle Eastern countries, as scientists are almost certain of the spread in at least domestic fowl in most of the Middle East.
In other bird flu news, a new human cluster has appeared in the south if Iraq with one human fatality so far, adding to the previous cluster of human cases in the northern Kurdish area of the country, indicating that domestic fowl throughout Iraq have been infected. Given the spread to surrounding countries, it is almost certain that Iran's birds have also been infected, though cooperation with such health agencies as the WHO and the OIE are unlikely to come from the current regime.
The virus has also appeared now in both birds and humans in Nigeria, suggesting infection along the flyway from the Middle East across Africa to this West African nation, so only time will tell what we will see across that continent as this story develops. Nigeria lies along two migratory bird flyways which lead to Western Europe and North America.
Major Hat Tip to the ever-valiant geneticist Dr. Henry Niman, who helps all of us to understand the mutations, news, and implications of these events as well as keeping the data straight for those of us less organized virology freaks!