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Evaluating the economic consequences of avian influenza (English)

The continued spread of the bird-to-bird version of avian influenza (or bird flu, also known by its scientific identifier H5N1) with limited bird-to-human transmission comprises part of the baseline forecast published in the World Bank's global development finance, 2006. The principal economic impact of the H5N1 virus so far has come in the rural sectors of several Asian economies in which the disease is enzootic. Its appearance in a number of European and African countries suggests that the disease may become as prevalent among the wild birds of these continents as it is currently in Asia. Even flu with 'normal' characteristics in terms of transmissibility and deadliness could have serious consequences for the world economy if the world's population has limited immunity. Estimates suggest that such flu could infect as much as 35 percent of the world's population, spreading throughout the world in as few as 180 days. As compared with a normal flu season, where some 0.2-1.5 million die, 3 deaths from even a mild new flu might include an additional 1.4 million people worldwide. A more virulent form, such as the 1918-9 flu, which was more deadly for healthy adults than a normal flu, could have much more serious consequences, killing as many as 1 in 40 infected individuals (Barry 2005) or some 71 million, with some authors suggesting that as many as 180-260 million could die in a worst-case scenario. However, even with such efforts, an eventual human pandemic at some unknown point in the future is virtually inevitable. Because such a pandemic will spread very quickly, substantial efforts need to be put into place to develop effective strategies and contingency plans that could be enacted at short notice. Much more research and coordination at the global level are required.




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Burns, Andrew Mensbrugghe, Dominique van der Timmer, Hans

Evaluating the economic consequences of avian influenza (English). Washington, D.C. : World Bank Group.