Colds and flu

Updated 11 October 2017

How a flu epidemic could hit the world

Here's what would happen if a flu epidemic hit the world.

If the H5N1 bird flu virus mutates and spreads easily from human to human (as is evident from events in Indonesia) and is as deadly as the 1918 flu virus it could lead to the following scenario:
BY GREG CALLIGARO for YOU Pulse magazine

New Page 1

Global population1,8 billion6,5 billion
Chief means of transportTroopships, trainsAircraft

Time it takes the virus to reach

all parts of the globe

Four monthsFour days
Protective and preventive measuresMasks and antisepticFlu vaccines
TreatmentBed rest, aspirin

Antivirals such as

Relenza and Tamiflu

Estimated mortalities25 million-50 million

100 million if the new virus is

potent and the antivirals not

as effective as scientists hope

(This is an edited version of a story that originally appeared in YOU Pulse / Huisgenoot-POLS magazine, Autumn 2008. Buy the latest copy, on newsstands now, for more fascinating stories from the world of health and wellness.)


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Flu expert

Dr Heidi van Deventer completed her MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 2004 at the University of Stellenbosch.
She has additional training in ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) and PALS (Paediatric Advanced Life Support) as well as biostatistics and epidemiology.

Dr Van Deventer is currently working as a researcher at the Desmond Tutu Tuberculosis Centre at the University of Stellenbosch.

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