Bird Flu Update

Ken AshfordAvian/Swine FluLeave a Comment

Ot121904s Look, I’ve blogged about this subject before, so obviously I’m concerned.  But I don’t think we need to instill panic:

In a remarkable speech over the weekend, Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt recommended that Americans start storing canned tuna and powdered milk under their beds as the prospect of a deadly bird flu outbreak approaches the United States.

Ready or not, here it comes.

Storing canned tuna under the bed?  This is what our government is telling us to do?

I’m sure the people at "Chicken Of The Sea" will be grateful for the panic shopping, but are probably huddling right now in the conference rooms to give serious consideration to a name change for their product.

It is being spread much faster than first predicted from one wild flock of birds to another, an airborne delivery system that no government can stop.

"There’s no way you can protect the United States by building a big cage around it and preventing wild birds from flying in and out," U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Michael Johanns said.

I have an idea.  How about Minutemen?  Why don’t they guard our borders?  Dick Cheney, an avid bird hunter, can teach them to shoot.

No, wait.  Maybe not that last part.

U.S. spy satellites are tracking the infected flocks, which started in Asia and are now heading north to Siberia and Alaska, where they will soon mingle with flocks from the North American flyways.

"What we’re watching in real time is evolution," said Laurie Garrett, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations. "And it’s a biological process, and it is, by definition, unpredictable."


Even on a model farm, ABC News saw a pond just outside the protected barns attracting wild geese.

It is the droppings of infected waterfowl that carry the virus.

Okay.  Well, so much for the pool this summer.  Shit.

The bird flu virus, to date, is still not easily transmitted to humans. There have been lots of dead birds on three continents, but so far fewer than 100 reported human deaths.

But should that change, the spread could be rapid.

ABC News has obtained a mathematical projection prepared by federal scientists based on an initial outbreak on an East Coast chicken farm in which humans are infected. Within three months, with no vaccine, almost half of the country would have the flu.

But, of course, the most powerful nation in the world has the best health care system in the world, so there’s no need to panic, right?  Right?

Anyway, here’s a handy dandy fact sheet (click on it to enlarge):


Have a nice day.