Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Birds Are Coming, The Birds Are Coming!

At the risk of losing a few brain cells, I occasionally check out the corporate-owned media to see what weapons of mass distraction are being unleashed upon the masses. To take society's fear temperature, if you will. The latest non-threat, that might be a threat one day, that we should prepare for in case it happens in the distant future is the avian flu.

Here's what the Associated Press had to say about it today,

Scientists fear the H5N1 virus, which is difficult for humans to contract, could mutate into a form more easily transmitted between people and lead to a pandemic.

The risk of infection for most people in Europe is close to zero, said Zsuzsanna Jakab of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

The agency gave two guidelines for people to minimize the risk of being infected: Don't touch dead or sick birds, and only eat poultry and eggs that are well prepared.

Here's what the Center For Disease Control has to say on the subject

Bird flu viruses do not usually infect humans, but several cases of human infection with bird flu viruses have occurred since 1997. The risk from bird flu is generally low to most people because the viruses occur mainly among birds and do not usually infect humans. However, during an outbreak of bird flu among poultry (domesticated chicken, ducks, turkeys), there is a possible risk to people who have contact with infected birds or surfaces that have been contaminated with excretions from infected birds. The current outbreak of avian influenza A (H5N1) among poultry in Asia and Europe (see below) is an example of a bird flu outbreak that has caused human infections and deaths. In such situations, people should avoid contact with infected birds or contaminated surfaces, and should be careful when handling and cooking poultry.

For more information about avian influenza and food safety issues, visit the World Health Organization website. In rare instances, limited human-to-human spread of
H5N1 virus has occurred, and transmission has not been observed to continue beyond one person.

Okay, let me get this straight. The risk of human infection is close to zero. It is difficult for humans to contract. Since most of us don't handle dead or sick birds in our lifetime, WHAT'S THE PROBLEM????????? I thought the risk of salmonella poisoning made people aware that raw chicken is NOT a delicacy. Birds have a disease in China and Europe and I am supposed to quarantine my parakeet?

The Business Section of today's BBC may shed light on all of this tomfoolery,
Bird flu drug sales boost Roche
Drugs firm Roche has seen third-quarter revenues rise 17% helped by a jump in sales of Tamiflu, which is seen as the best treatment for bird flu.

This is the follow-up to my post a few days ago entitled "Drugs Anyone?", in which I suggested that the pharmaceutical industry invents diseases in order to scare the holy bejesus out of people. Works like a charm every time!


At 1:58 PM, October 19, 2005 , Blogger bombsoverbaghdad said...

I truly don't understand what all the hype is about. Like you, I intentionally avoided this news story. I still don't really understand it. It just wreaks of stupidness to me...

At 3:14 PM, October 19, 2005 , Blogger jmcmaster said...

As true as it is that the drug companies will profit from this especially Roche, the problem is not the strain of avian flu now which as you stated is rare for humans to contract it is the impending problem of when the virus mutates into a strain that is highly contagious in humans. Believe me it will mutate most viruses do as they grow and adapt and if and when this happens there will be a health pandemic.

At 3:19 PM, October 19, 2005 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...


I was just reading your blog and I found your take on the military aspect of the panic plausible and compelling.

Here's the link for others to read your post.

At 7:35 PM, October 19, 2005 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hang on II, let me grab my tin-foil hat.

At 12:57 PM, October 20, 2005 , Blogger jj said...

Fear has been used by religions and politician since well when has it not been used in one form or another.

Bush has capitalized on the fear of Americans right here in the home of the brave.

"Fear can only prevail when victims are ignorant of the facts ". - Thomas Jefferson

At 8:02 PM, October 20, 2005 , Blogger chad said...

I appreciate your reality check point of view, and there are those who stand to profit at spreading fear. However, the scientific community was genuinely concerned about the possibility of a catastrophic flu epidemic long before this story started gaining media attention. Most of the information you quote regarding the avian flu is accurate. The virus is unlikely to infect or affect most people that do not live on chicken farms or eat uncooked poultry. So yes, there is no reason to be concerned about the virus in its present form, but if the virus mutates, it could be another story.
The previous commenter (jmcmaster) says “believe me”, this virus is going to acquire a mutation allowing human to human spread, but he is fear mongering himself. The fact is that the most expert virologists are unsure about the probability of this flu mutating. They know that viruses do mutate, but estimating the risk of mutation is a scientific endeavor that we just don’t have the understanding to do accurately. Obviously, the more birds and humans that contract the present virus, then the more hosts exist for viral mutation, but that only means the risk is increasing. It may be increasing from super-duper infinitesimal to just regular infinitesimal. Since no one can accurately quantify the risk of mutation, we are left knowing we should worry, but the question remains…how much should we worry? A deadly epidemic may be imminent or it may be unlikely to happen. The bottom line is no one knows. All we know is that if this thing mutates, it is likely to be a more deadly natural disaster than even last year’s tsunami. An avian flu epidemic would quickly overwhelm our present health care system, and millions could die in America alone. With a threat that deadly, I think it makes sense to focus serious scientific efforts on planning for it even though we can’t be sure how likely it is…because we can’t be sure how unlikely it is either…

Concerned, but not pushing the panic button just yet,

“A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it”
~Proverbs 22:3

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