Feature Archive

Top 10 Health Stories of 2005

WebMD editors pick the year's major health news stories.

By Daniel DeNoon
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Michael Smith, MD

Bird flu tops WebMD's list of the top health news stories of 2005, but a pyramid, natural disasters, and a movie star left their mark in a big way, too.

It's been a busy year for the WebMD newsroom. Here's our editors' pick of the top 10 stories.

1. Bird Flu Takes Wing

It's the biggest health story of the year -- and it hasn't happened yet.

Unlike human flu bugs, the H5N1 bird flu sweeping Asia H5N1 bird flu sweeping Asia hasn't yet learned to spread from person to person.

If it does, it could be worse than the infamous 1918 Spanish flu - a bird flu that killed tens of millions of people worldwide. It could also be an economic disaster-- yet state officials say they can't afford to prepare.

What do you need to know? WebMD puts bird flu into historical perspective, and answers the questions -- including whether media hype is inflating bird flu fears.

What will we see in the coming year? Bird flu already is popping up in Europe. As wild birds carry the bird flu virus around the world, it may only be a matter of time before the bug hits birds in Africa and America. Scientists are racing to test a new bird flu vaccinenew bird flu vaccine for humans and to develop faster, better flu vaccines.

2. The Terri Schiavo Saga -- End of Life and Living Wills

After having her feeding tube removed, Terri Schiavo died. Whether the brain-damaged Florida woman would have wanted it this way -- or whether she would have preferred to be kept alive at all costs -- remains a matter of dispute.

That dispute -- between family members -- played out in the most public of ways as the U.S. Congress and Florida Governor Jeb Bush sought to intervene. No matter how we felt about the dispute, Schiavo's sad story made all of us think about our own end-of-life decisions-- and about seeing to our own living wills.

As intimate details of Schiavo's life and death became public, there was some evidence that her collapse may have been due to an eating disorder. Whether this was the case or not, the story again served to focus our attention on an underappreciated health issue.

Schiavo's great legacy may be that she's made us all think about our own deaths, and about how we want our families to deal with them.

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