Bird Flu - Archives
Who Will Die?
Who will die in a flu pandemic? And who will handle all the dead bodies?
TPM Cafe tells us.
Meanwhile, according to a
official, a bird flu
pandemic is "almost certain" - in the long term. The short term outlook is
June 1st, 2007
More Reasons to Panic
An ultra-severe flu
pandemic could kill 140 million people worldwide and cost the global
economy more than $4 trillion, according to a new computer model:
An ultra pandemic would cause recessions in the developed world, cutting
GDP by 5.5% in the United States and 8% in Europe
...On the other hand, such a pandemic would hammer developing
countries....The GDP of Indonesia would drop by 18%. Output in Singapore
would shrink by 22%, in the Philippines by 38% and in Hong Kong by 54%.
November 13th, 2006
I Haven't Gone Away
Toronto Sun reminds us that we should still be panicking.
Here's the headline:
Killer pandemic 'going to happen'
And here's the first sub-head:
World must prepare for the worst, expert warns
And the next sub-head:
1 BILLION COULD DIE
Meanwhile, here's a headline in the
We're not ready for flu pandemic
November 8th, 2006
Winter's Coming - Time to Panic
Britain's sensationalist Sunday People newspaper
Millions of potential killers carrying deadly bird flu are heading to
More than three million birds have started their annual migration from
Scandinavia, Russia and Canada to spend winter in our milder climate.
And experts warn that some will have the lethal HN51 strain of bird flu
which has killed at least 76 people worldwide.
In Russia last year 13,000 birds died of the disease and 113,000 were culled
to prevent further outbreaks.
Britain's deputy chief veterinary officer, Fred Landeg, said: "Far from
going away, there is an increased likelihood of finding the virus here. We
must be vigilant. We're ready to deal with outbreaks."
The disease could also devastate poultry farms.
October 9th, 2006
What Happened to the Pandemic Panic?
Post Chronicle columnist wonders:
Did I sleep through the "Avian Bird Flu" pandemic? It seems like only
yesterday that the media was warning that millions of lives could be lost to
this killer, even in advanced nations like America.
...However, just when one is ready to celebrate the eradication of one
pandemic, another life-threatening malady is showcased. This time, it's
reports of the "Obesity Pandemic" that has medical professionals wringing
their chubby hands with angst.
Imagine this, if you can. I recently put on 35 pounds to be strong enough to
ward off Avian Bird Flu, and now they tell me that obesity is the greater
September 11th, 2006
Badminton players are
panic-buying goose-feather shuttlecocks. Bird flu
fears have led to the cull of millions of geese, and a resultant shortage of
August 2nd, 2006
1. A bird flu pandemic could send firms with weak balance sheets "spiralling
into bankruptcy," according to a senior World Bank official. Airlines
would be particularly exposed.
2. US funeral companies would be hard pressed to meet demand for their
services in a bird flu pandemic, because of the
sheer volume of dead, and stringent public health rules that would
likely be put into effect, according to Reuters.
Commodity prices would fall less and recover faster than other assets if
there were a bird flu pandemic, according to a prominent fund manager.
June 30th, 2006
The Pandemic Pandemic
(Or Is It Just an Epidemic?)
What’s the difference
between an epidemic and a pandemic? Even though, as a writer, I’m in the
word business, I hadn’t really thought about this. But Fort Wayne
News-Banner columnist Mark Miller has. He
It strikes me that
the latest word to become a fad is “pandemic.” The word is absolutely
everywhere. It’s become almost synonymous with the bird flu threat, and I’ve
seen it applied to other issues as well.
These things used to
be called an epidemic, I think. Don’t hear that word anymore at all.
...According to Mr.
or tending to affect many individuals within a population, community or
region at the same time; excessively prevalent.”
over a wide geographic area and affecting an exceptionally high proportion
of the population.”
Both can be used as
either as an adjective and a noun.
It appears a pandemic
might be considered worse, or at least more widely spread, than an epidemic.
Hence, it is safe to say we are experiencing a pandemic pandemic.
Sense of Panic
Xinhua news agency reports on life in America:
An alarmist TV movie "Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in
America" being shown in
the U.S. now has aroused a stomach-clenching sense of panic among the
A terrific movie,
"Fatal Contact" tells a fictitious but vivid story of an avian flu pandemic
threatening millions of lives.
An exaggeration? The
Medical News Today reports:
We have received 112
emails from people in the USA with questions ranging from ‘How could other
countries be so selfish as to withhold vaccines?' to ‘I woke up with a
temperature and a cough this morning, do you think I may have caught the
As the movie was pure
fiction, not a documentary, and bird flu has not yet arrived in the USA, it
baffles me how people can be angry at other countries or wonder whether they
Pandemic Panic (Update)
Health and Human
Leavitt said on Sunday that the US is “overdue for a pandemic, but we're
Ali, the Asian Development Bank's chief economist, has warned that bird
flu is “one of the most underrated threats to Asia's fast-growing economies
and could wipe out over $300 billion of their gross output.”
American vets are concerned that Tuesday night’s tele-movie,
Contact: Bird Flu in America" will “cause unnecessary panic among the
public, leading to a destructive, harmful or unhealthy response."
May 8th, 2006
“I have a bunch of
patients coming in here who are more worried about bird flu than they are
about heart disease,” said Dr. Marc Siegel, an internist and associate
professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine. “The
fear is out of proportion to the current risk.”
Shares of Tyson Foods
Inc., the nation's largest chicken and beef producer, fell Thursday after
the company slashed its earnings outlook because bird flu fears are
suppressing demand and prices for exported chicken.
authorities briefly quarantined a Singapore Airlines flight on Thursday over
fears a passenger might have bird flu.
A study published in
The Lancet today claims Europe is only "moderately prepared" ahead of a
potential flu pandemic.
…Dr Richard Coker,
the report's lead author said: "Wide gaps exist in the pandemic preparedness
of European nations.
"With the ongoing
spread of the H5N1 avian influenza virus in birds and the impending threat
of a pandemic, European nations need to work together to adequately prepare
for the onset of such a pandemic."
And now we’re hearing
talk again – from several sources – of a looming bird flu pandemic.
In China, agriculture
minister Du Qinglin told the Standing Committee of the National People's
Congress that “in view of the current situation, the possibility of a
bird flu outbreak could not be ruled out."
Meanwhile, a lengthy
commentary in the International Herald Tribune warns:
Despite the commitment of billions of dollars to the fight against
pandemic influenza, the world may
the battle against avian flu, for lack of an effective strategy. Much of
the money - nearly $4 billion from
U.S. taxpayers, alone -
is being spent inappropriately.
Learn How to Bury Your
Reuters reports from a
conference in the US on how to prepare for a
bird flu pandemic:
When burying a body
in the backyard, don't put it too close to the septic system. That was one
piece of advice offered on Wednesday to a business conference on preparing
for a potentially lethal bird flu pandemic.
Preparations for a
global flu pandemic, which many experts believe is overdue, have begun but
the grisly details are horrific and the number of sick could quickly
overwhelm the health care system.
…In Seattle, public
health officials are weighing the ramifications of hospitals overwhelmed by
hundreds of thousands of sick people and the need for thousands of body
"We talk about how
people should bury their dead in their backyards, how far from the septic
systems," said Dorothy Teeter, director of the King County public health
department in Seattle. "In case you're wondering, it's $20 apiece for
high-quality body bags. In New Orleans (after Hurricane Katrina) they had to
New Zealand’s Pandemic
What is it with New
Zealand (where I was born)? It’s unlikely to be any more affected by bird
flu than any other Western nation, and as a remote island country might be
even less hurt. Yet it seems the government and media there have gone
bananas over the prospect of a pandemic. It’s prompted
government's preparations for a possible outbreak of bird flu are being
panned as being completely over the top.
This week the Ministry of Health began distributing leaflets explaining how
New Zealanders should prepare for a possible pandemic. It is already
stockpiling shots of the ant-viral drug Tamiflu.
But Macquarie University professor Peter Curson, from Australia, said New
Zealand is getting into a flap over nothing. He said the government is
reacting to something that is very unlikely to happen.
Peter Curson said the country would be better off declaring a pandemic of
some of the real health problems it has, like diabetes and obesity.
Is it not time the
New Zealand Herald [the country’s biggest daily newspaper] was renamed the
New Zealand Hysteria? Such a change would certainly seem justified after a
bizarre article this week on how to survive the eschatological ravages of
Readers were advised
to stock up on bottled water, to buy a barbecue to cook on and to remember
that hot water cylinders are drinkable.
Who would have known
that a flu virus would knock out electricity, water and gas supplies? There
were other such helpful hints - that empty plastic bottles are dandy for
storing water, swimming pools can be used for sanitation and canned food
does need a can opener.
The best advice was
at the end. "Supermarkets," the newspaper breathlessly advised, "would
remain open, but with fewer staff." So why do I need all those cans? And
won't my neighbour get upset if I use his kidney-shaped bather for my
This pandemic panic
is being fuelled by health policy advisers to justify their jobs, the media
to fill an otherwise bare news desert, and local bodies to justify their
excessive rates demands.
in Two Years
bluntly that a bird flu pandemic will arrive in two years.
director of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences’ Influenza Institute,
Oleg Kiselyov, said that a global epidemic of bird flu will occur in two
years, Interfax reported Wednesday. “A pandemic will occur, and it will
occur in two years,” Kiselyov told journalists at a science workshop
conference in the Russian Agricultural Sciences Academy.
psychologist tells the
Birmingham Business Journal the difference between productive worry
about bird flu and unproductive worry:
clinical psychologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, says the
very word pandemic is scary indeed, and some within the general population
are panicking about the possibility of the occurrence "because it's been
brought to our attention almost daily."
"I suppose the upside
is that pandemic doesn't make epidemic sound so bad," Klapow says. The
problem, he says, is not the news media's reporting in general but rather
the repeated use of sound bites that reduce the average citizen's exposure
to the subject to words and phrases like "pandemic," "not prepared" and
"The bottom line is
that there's a lot more to public health issues than the doom and gloom
people focus on, and it clearly becomes a situation of productive versus
unproductive worrying," Klapow says.
involves variables people can control; unproductive worrying involves
intangibles. "Unproductive worrying doesn't get you anywhere, and it causes
unnecessary stress, so it becomes a question of how do you take that worry
about something you can't possibly control and channel it into productive
actions," he says.
"We can be as
panicked as we want about a flu pandemic, but in the process we put our
bodies at risk for contracting illness because heightened stress compromises
our immune systems."
backtracking to what is known rather than what could possibly be. The
reality is that influenza season has arrived and, even under normal
conditions, a small percentage of the U.S. population grows gravely ill and
even dies from flu-related complications each year. Another known factor is
that the flu is highly contagious, so infected people should not work while
ill. Doing so prolongs the duration of the sick person's recovery while
exposing his or her co-workers to the virus.
"Sick employees put
an entire office at risk, and healthy habits provide employees more control
to not only eliminate fear about a pandemic but also do something to
directly create a safer workplace," he says. Adequate sleep, exercise,
proper diet and keeping stress levels in check all strengthen an
individual's immune system and decrease the chances of falling ill in the
first place. "Far and away the biggest impact on health -- whether bacterial
infection, virus or chronic disease -- the biggest impact comes from what
people do or don't do every day," Klapow says.
A bird flu
may not occur, says a prominent scientist, contradicting the claims of
inevitability from many others.
"It may never
happen," said Jeremy Farrar, director of Oxford University's clinical
research unit at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Ho Chi Minh City,
Vietnam. Dr Farrar said weaknesses inherent in the virus might explain why
it had not killed more people and had not been passed from human to human in
the two years since the first outbreak.
…"There may be
constraints on the virus so that it may not be able to mutate and retain its
nastiness and also go from one human to another," he said. "We haven't seen
a case in Ho Chi Minh City for several months."
…"Why have so few
people been infected, given the billions of poultry across Asia and so many
people exposed to them on a daily basis?" Dr Farrar said.
from a story in South Africa’s Business Day:
Panic, Wait 'Til Bird Flu Arrives, Then Panic'
Edmonton Journal in Canada is out to terrify us. Its headline is
“Survival Strategies: Stock up and steel yourself for 'societal
disruption',” and underneath is a photo of a woman in a face mask. A lengthy
article suggests we should panic early.
It starts with
a snapshot of life today for Hans Machel:
so alarmed by the swelling mountain of research warning of an influenza
pandemic that the University of Alberta earth sciences professor has enough
food, water and emergency supplies to hole up at home for two weeks.
includes gasoline stored safely in his garage and a 14-day supply of Tamiflu
in his fridge, medicine that can ease influenza's aches and coughs.
common sense," Machel says. "If half or even just a third of the population
is ill, so ill they can't perform their job -- take half the people out of
general society, gas stations, banks, grocery stores -- society as we know
it will go belly up."
Cooper, chief economist for BMO Nesbitt Burns, describes what might happen
at the first sign of the pandemic:
worried shoppers will empty store shelves of emergency supplies such as
bottled water, canned food and generators.
will rush pharmacies for essential medications and medical products such as
insulin, she says in an October report on pandemic influenza titled “Don't
Fear Fear or Panic Panic: An Economist's View of Pandemic Flu.”
today's global supply chain, shortages would soon develop," Cooper writes.
To preserve supplies, shoppers may face rationing.
we will wait for this highly contagious disease, popping up like weeds
around the world as travellers spread the virus, to make its way here.
all. Then panic.
Should I Worry?
columnist Camilla Cavendish
wonders if she is over-reacting to the bird flu scare.
started to wonder whether I was getting a bit bird-brained about all this
when I found myself surfing the web to buy Tamiflu…Humans are not rational
beings, of course. And what, in any case, is a rational response to a small
but real probability of something truly awful happening? Should we now lay
siege to spice shops and Indian restaurants, since the main ingredient in
Tamiflu is star anise? The medics are no help; they seem entranced by
visions of apocalypse.
….It is deeply
irritating to be panicked by institutions that could do very little if bird
flu struck, but that are simultaneously talking up the risk and failing to
do what they should. In the US, an H5N1 vaccine is being tested that might
help if the virus mutates — but here our ministers still cannot get their
heads round how our factories could ever make enough. Only a few years ago,
another devastating virus was predicted. It was called the Millennium Bug.
Everyone had a contingency plan, but none was needed. It may be our duty as
mothers to worry — but not quite so much.
Consumption - How Much Will It Fall?
daughters of one of my wife’s best friends now refuse to eat chicken,
fearing bird flu. They know you don’t get bird flu from cooked poultry, and
in any case they know you don’t get bird flu here in Australia. But better
safe than sorry.
I suspect a
lot of people around the world are starting to think like that. Are global
chicken sales about to nosedive?....continue
Chicken Consumption - How Much
Will It Fall?
November 10th, 2005
experts from the Asia-Pacific region are
meeting in Brisbane today to coordinate a response to any bird flu
pandemic. However, the
Medical Association (AMA) is calling on delegates to the conference to act
with caution. According to AMA president Mukesh Haikerwal, "From the
evidence and the incidence of bird flu that is out there at the moment, it
is probably a bit early and irresponsible to be talking of widespread doom,
destruction and death. People need to be able to get on with their lives
without the prospect of some sort of ornithological Armageddon creating fear
in the community."
Newspapers Whip up a Panic
about a possible bird flu pandemic sweeps the nation,” according to the
Daily Telegraph in Sydney, citing as evidence a doctor who said “patients
were swarming into her Eastern Suburbs practice claiming they were
travelling to Asia or had been placed on a waiting list for the drug by a
chemist and wanted a script.”
And on the
News.com.au website of the Telegraph’s parent company is a report that,
doctors and medical workers have devised ‘exit strategies’ to flee their
homes if human-to-human bird flu takes hold.” Not a shred of evidence is
Canada Gets Worried
of a flu pandemic could rival the impact of the Great Depression, according
to Canada’s Health Minister.
Meanwhile, a Canadian
economist, Sherry Cooper, has
told CBC News that a major flu outbreak
governments everywhere to shut down their borders, or, in effect, ground
airplanes, because people would not want to travel, and that would be the
end of the major trade in goods and services, at least for some period of
time….And, given our global supply chains, there would develop shortages in
many, many goods, many products, across the world very quickly." It would be
hard to maintain food supplies "even across provincial lines, let alone
across international lines," she added
She also said that she
did not want to “generate fear unnecessarily.”
CBC News report said the Conference Board of Canada has warned that “a flu
pandemic on a large scale would throw the world into a sudden and possibly
dramatic global recession."
Will We All Die?
Is there a vaccine
and how can I get it F-A-S-T?
Don’t hold your
breath (unless there’s a chicken about).
So says an
amusing and lengthy report in Britain’s
titled “How to Survive Bird Flu” and sub-titled “The deadly H5N1 virus is
heading our way. Will we all die?”
a lot of practical information, and ends with reassurance:
DON’T PANIC JUST YET
We humans love to
scare ourselves, but rarely do our worst fears come to be — partly because
we worry so much. Consider these scares of the past…
Global nuclear holocaust
The millennium bug
Mad Cow disease
in Fairy Tales
pessimistic article about the chances of stopping a pandemic. Here are
believe that you can contain this locally is to believe in fairy tales,"
said Mike Osterholm, an infectious disease specialist at the University of
Dr. Margaret Chan,
the WHO's assistant director-general for communicable diseases, told
Britain's Times newspaper that cooperation had worsened since the 2003
outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, which killed about 800 people
before it was contained. "That was a time when we were really working
together as an international community of academics, politicians, public
health experts. Everybody really was so focused," the newspaper quoted Chan
Even in advanced
nations like the United States, little has been done to help provide even
basic care for pandemic flu patients, the American College of Emergency
Physicians said. "Many hospital emergency departments in this country are
operating at, or over current capacity," said ACEP president Dr. Rick Blum.
"We as a nation, have poured millions of dollars into preparedness, but
virtually none of that has gone to the one place that is the true first
response to something like a flu epidemic, or a hurricane, or a terrorist
attack -- the nation's emergency departments."