Avian Influenza update
The Sun has a scary headline today "Mutant flu 'will kill 50 million." It would be easy to dismiss the article because The Sun is a tabloid known for hyperbole. It would also be irresponsible to ignore influenza as a serious threat. Flu pandemics throughout history have attacked human population aggressively about once every other generation. In the early part of the 20th century we had a world wide Spanish Flu epidemic which claimed between 2.5 and 5% of the Earth's population. Multiplying the low end of those estimates against todays population would equal 150 million people. For comparison, HIV/AIDS has been known for about 25 years and has claimed around 25 million lives.
I don't expect the Avian (bird) Flu to claim anywhere near as many lives as the Spanish Flu percentage wise mainly because of improvements in hygiene in the last hundred years. However, some of that could be offset by the incredible increase in international travel. At the time of the Spanish Flu pandemic it took weeks to cross the Atlantic or Pacific oceans. Now it takes hours. Normally, the best course of action would be a quarantine of an infected area. However, with bird migration that may not be all that effective.
Anyway, wash your hands frequently and pray the pharmaceutical industry hasn't been deterred by the constant threat of lawsuit anytime their products don't achieve perfect results.