Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Bird Flu

Stop the panic. Please. Is it just me or are we seriously panicking over bird flu? Let's look at some facts. Since this wave of avian influenza (A - H5N1) began in 2003, there have been 113 human deaths and just over 205 cases of infection. This is a drop in the bucket when compared to other causes of deaths. AIDS, now that's a serious problem. It claimed 3.1 million lives in 2005, according to the WHO, and there are more than 40 million people living with HIV today. Cancer, another big one. This disease kills 7 million people every year. Indoor air pollution alone kills one person every 20 seconds. In the United States, more than 40,000 people die in a motor vehicle accident. So, I guess, 113 deaths just doesn't seem like a lot to me. Of course, I'm not a health expert or animal disease specialist, but it seems that there are bigger things to worry about right now.

Don't forget that this disease first broke out in developing countries (Thailand, Vietnam, etc.) where sanitation standards are not exactly perfect - and it killed only 113 people. If it were so deadly, wouldn't it have spread a lot faster? Although bird flu has not yet traveled the ocean to the Americas, I think we'll have the tools to deal with it. The virus is still not hopping from person-to-person or mutating as many health experts feared. Most infections are still due to prolonged exposure to infected poultry.

Yes, we probably need to keep our pet birds inside and away from fowl or other outdoor birds. If bird flu does break out in the U.S., it seems likely that exposed flocks of birds - whether poultry or parrot - will be culled to prevent the further spread of the virus. This is what has happened in every other country with an avian flu outbreak, so there's no reason to believe that it won't happen here. Keep your birds inside or in a secure, covered outdoor aviary, and report any illness of your own, and I think you'll be safe. Please stop the panic. Yes, this is the largest outbreak of H5N1 to date. We need to be cautious and vigilant, but 113 deaths doesn't justify panic in my mind.

No kidding. This flu craze is out of control.
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