Monday, February 06, 2006


Agence France Presse (via Jakarta Post) reports that specimens from eleven more cases of suspected bird flu are in WHO reference labs awaiting confirmation as human H5N1 infections. The world's fourth most populous country already has 16 deaths and 23 confirmed cases and the ones awaiting confirmation are ones that have already tested positive locally.

With all eyes on the cases in Turkey and Kurdish Iraq, we sometimes forget the witch's brew of bird and human infection bubbling away in Indonesia (not to mention China and southeast Asia). This represents trillions of tiny natural experiments of viral replications looking for the right recipe to inhabit a new host population. If you think of the virus as a predator, we are six billion pieces of meat.

Maybe not. Just because everything we know about other species suggests that when they get overcrowded and begin to foul their own nest they suffer a population crash doesn't mean that could also happen to the human species.

So if you think that, don't bother getting ready. That's the way we clean the gene pool.