Archiver > SOUTH-AFRICA > 2005-10 > 1129506582

From: Andrew Rodger <>
Subject: Re: [ZA] Influenza (was Eva/Krotoa & Pieter van Meerhof)
Date: Mon, 17 Oct 2005 09:49:42 +1000
In-Reply-To: <004b01c5d173$40625ec0$9d53ef9b@muareen>

The report about the resurrection of the 1918 'flu virus in the USA is
correct, and has been widely reported round the world by respectable
journals. Of course there is a risk, as with all viruses held captive,
but the context is that the 1918 virus is thought to have spontaneously
mutated from an avian (bird) flu virus, and that there are signs of a
pandemic of avian flu right now which epidemiologists fear may also
mutate into a form that can be passed from one human being to another.
(So far the disease has been passed only from birds, mainly domestic
poultry, to human beings, with a number of cases reported in South-East
Asia, especially Indonesia and China, and the latest in Turkey and
Rumania.) Scientists are anxious to find out more about the flu virus
of 1918 in the light of modern genetic knowledge (in 1918 we didn't
even know that viruses existed!) and in particular how the mutation
might be initiated and thence what might be done to control or
forestall its mutation.

The 1918 epidemic was the worst world-wide pandemic that has ever
occurred so far; my mother used to tell us of her experience of it (as
a child of about 7 years old): all the family had it, and by the end
she was having to look after the whole lot of them, with what help
those recovering could give her, but she found herself rewarded when,
after all the others were recovered or well on the way to recovery, she
herself came down with it and was waited on hand and foot by all of
them! Made a great impression on a little girl. That family was
fortunate, nobody died, but many others were not; and a new pandemic
would be even worse. Imagine the effect of the disease on a population
weakened by natural disasters such as the earthquake in Kashmir, the
Boxing Day tsunami or a Caribbean hurricane.

On Saturday, October 15, 2005, at 08:28 PM, Maureen Brady wrote:

> Same problem here, Delia! Although I do remember some of our more
> intesting
> debates, like the one about the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic --
> which
> reminds me, there's an interesting article in yesterday's "Mail &
> Guardian"
> newspaper (which should also be available soon on their website --
> about how scientists have resurrected this virus, and the
> frightening consequences it might have. The story was lifted from the
> British "Guardian", a most respectable source, so it's not just
> sensational
> scaremongering.
> Regards
> Maureen
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Delia Robertson" <>
> To: <>
> Sent: Saturday, October 15, 2005 6:34 AM
> Subject: Re: [ZA] Eva/Krotoa & Pieter van Meerhof
>> Hi Maureen,
>> At 02:21 PM 2005/10/14, you wrote:
>>> Hi Delia
>>> Given your long association with this List, I'd be surprised if you
>>> don't
>>> recall how often in the past I've mentioned that I'm a descendant of
>>> this
>>> union myself.
>> Forgive me, but I don't recall . . . . hehe sometimes I have a problem
>> remembering my own ancestors!
>>> snip
>>> Now I'm curious to see just how many cousins I can connect with
>>> through the List, and to begin to build a database of all these
>>> interconnections, although I have yet to work out how I'm going to
>>> cope
> with
>>> the technical challenge this will involve! I need hardly point out
>>> what a
>>> massive undertaking this will be. I have no clear vision of where
>>> this
>>> project may lead; all I can do is make a start.
>> Lovely idea.
>> Delia Robertson
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