The news this morning that birds infected with Avian flu have been found in Greece as well as in Turkey means that with the autumnal migration, there is at least a possibility that infected birds may well end up in Britain in due course.
While the situation stays like this, there will be problems in terms of keeping poultry safe from infection, but apart from poultry workers there may not be much of a threat to other people.
If and when the virus mutates enough, however, and comes into contact with a human already suffering from flu, then we have real problems.
We may be lucky and the mutated virus may not be significantly worse than normal flu - or it could be deadly.
The humans infected with avian flu so far seem to have had a ~50% mortality rate.
There is not enough Tamiflu to go round even a small fraction of the British population, and more is unlikely to be forthcoming quickly as the raw ingredient for Tamiflu is Chinese Star Anise, which is in very short supply, and the manufacturing process is complex and delicate, taking a year from start to finish.
Most online stockists are running out, and are charging exorbitant prices of up to £100 for one course of treatment.
Tamiflu is not a cure, but it does ameliorate symptoms in some people.
More worrying is that the Government is busy stocking up on Tamiflu whereas there have already been cases in Vietnam of the avian flu mutating to a form against which Tamiflu is ineffective. The other drug which can help is a prescription-only drug called Relenza, and the availability and price of this is also very variable. It has not been stockpiled to any significant extent by the Government.
Houston, we have a problem.......
An extremely useful and informative medical guide to preparing for, and caring for affected people in an epidemic can be found here .
Those of a inquiring mind may wish to check out this, this and this .
If neither Relenza nor Tamiflu are available or work against a human strain of avian flu, Sambucol may just possibly be of some help. It has shown an effect against a turkey strain of influenza in laboratory studies, although that does not mean it will necessarily work in practice in an avian flu affecting humans.
Please note I am not in any way advocating the use of Sambucol nor am I recommending it.
I am simply providing information which I have found on the web.
Another source raises some questions/concerns about the use of Sambucol for avian flu, however.
Another interesting (but slanted towards a rural/gun-owning readership) resource about surviving a worst-case scenario outbreak of human/avian flu can be found at http://www.survivalblog.com/ filed under Sunday October 16th 2005.