Posted by: zhak39 | April 7, 2006

Bird Flu

While there are many reasons to have a safety net, some food in the house, a full tank of gas if you can, the bird flu may not be the big bad that it sounds like. In fact, it seems to me a bit of smoke coming from the White House being magnified in the mirrors of the media.

First, take a look at this article published last month from an investigation by ABC news somewhat hysterically subtitled–

Bird Flu Has a Potential to Devastate
the Human Population, but So Far Has Not Spun Out of Control

Don’t bother to read any further than–

Here are two key facts to help put the virus in context:

Right now, this is a virus that primarily affects birds. More than 200 million birds have died or been killed, while 97 humans have died worldwide. Each year in just the United States alone, 36,000 people die from seasonal flu.

In China, the disease is widespread among birds. The World Health Organization has confirmed just 15 infections and 10 deaths among humans in a population of 1.3 billion people — a rate of one case per 86 million people and one death per 130 million.

Now, switch over to this article from the February edition of Grain–

Fowl play:
The poultry industry’s central role in the bird flu crisis

The whole article is thorough and essentially reassuring but you can get the drift from the introduction–

The deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu is essentially a problem of industrial poultry practices. Its epicentre is the factory farms of China and Southeast Asia and — while wild birds can carry the disease, at least for short distances — its main vector is the highly self-regulated transnational poultry industry, which sends the products and waste of its farms around the world through a multitude of channels.

So how about the the latest brouhaha about Asian birds bringing the nasties to Alaska (maybe we should forget about immigration and outlaw migration). The migratory birds that are carrying the virus are unlikely to survive the trip and if they do, who are they going to spread it to? It’s not going to make it into our food supply from that corridor and I don’t know when the last time a Peking duck sneezed in your face but it’s unlikely that you’d catch it that way either.

You know who is really at risk with the bird flu? Other birds.

Now what is a pandemic? Let’s ask Wikipedia.

According to the World Health Organization, a pandemic can start when three conditions have been met:

  • * the emergence of a disease new to the population
  • * the agent infects humans, causing serious illness
  • * the agent spreads easily and sustainably among humans

A disease or condition is not a pandemic merely because it is widespread or kills a large number of people; it must also be infectious. For example cancer is responsible for a large number of deaths but is not considered a pandemic because the disease is not infectious.

So what do we have? Less than 100 people worldwide seem to have succumbed to a flu that was previously found only in birds and these people are all in some way exposed to or associated with very unhealthy domestic poultry raising practices.

The crux is this and you’ll find it over and over in the literature and in fact this quote from our fearless leader

“Pandemic flu is another matter. Pandemic flu occurs when a new strain of influenza emerges that can be transmitted easily from person to person”

What no one seems to be paying a lot of attention to is this repeated statement, and this is from the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza

“…the virus has not yet shown an ability to transmit efficiently between humans…”

Now this is what a pandemic actually looks like–

The 1918 Influenza Pandemic

You’ll note that the flu travelled where people came in contact with one another and at this time the rate of transoceanic travel had skyrocketed because of WWI. Like the British handing out blankets infected with small pox to the Colonists (the first recorded act of biological warfare on this continent, followed quickly by the same measure in an attempt to wipe out the eastern Indian tribes by the newly emerged American victors) it was just a matter of people with no immunity coming in contact with something rather nasty.

This is just not the case with this strain of bird flu. Although I do know some people who believe that the government, (that is, the shadow government, not the official one) is preparing to infect our population with the bird flu virus (possibly through the food supply or even through a random selection of those receiving the vaccine) in order to increase control over our population while decreasing frivolous energy consumption, I’m not in that camp. Just threw that one in for fun.

Keep yourself and your family reasonably healthy. That is actually the best defense against any virus. Your body is very clever. It’s being bombarded with viroids, random strings of wannabe RNA just waiting to attach to some juicy nucleotides, ripping through the jelly of your cytoplasmic sea, swapping atoms in its desire to recreate itself. It happens constantly and we endure it. That’s how we’re made.

And the reports? Turn the tv off.


  1. This is some of the most rational thought I’ve read concerning Bird Flu.

  2. Thank you for writing this so I didn’t have to! We have come to exactly the same conclusions. I believe in planning for the worst and being prepared, but I think that most of this is a lot of hooey pumped up to distract us from serious problems that are here NOW.

    There are small livestock farmers who believe that the hysteria is being purposely increased to deal the final blow to the increasingly successful free-range poultry business. I haven’t come to that conclusion yet, because I don’t understand how that kind of power can be that threatened, but stranger things have happened. Monsanto goes after small farmers all the time.

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