By: APINYA WIPATAYOTIN
Published: 16/05/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News
Thailand should prepare for a second wave of the (A) H1N1 influenza, which could occur as early as July, warns a viral expert.
The pattern of the (A) H1N1 outbreak is similar to other flu pandemics such as the Spanish flu in 1918, which killed 20 million people worldwide, said Dr Thirawat Hemachudha, director of the World Health Organisation’s Collaborating Centre for Research and Training on Viral Zoonoses.
Scientists say there are four steps which indicate whether the disease can cause a pandemic. They are that it is a new strain of virus, humans can contract it, it is non-seasonal, and the virus can spread quickly and widely.
”The (A) H1N1 flu has already passed the first three steps. We’ll just wait and see when the last step explodes. The current situation is like a warning sign, reminding us that the big wave is coming,” he said.
”According to scientific records, the second wave should happen between two months to two years [after the initial outbreak].”
Although the source of outbreak is not clear, some reports have said the (A) H1N1 virus could have leaked from a laboratory during the process of developing new vaccines.
Jessada Denduangboribant, a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University’s faculty of science, said that the virus’ structure is astonishing.
”We found that its genetic code changes very quickly, which is unusual. There are eight segments of the viral genome, which is a kind of rearrangement of viruses from pigs, birds and humans.
”Normally, there should be some change in some segments. But in this case all of them have changed, which is very strange,” he said.