The Bird Flu Threat: Real or Exaggerated?

This article by guest blogger Heather Johnson focuses on the often over exaggerated threat of avian influenza. At first it may seem to some to be off topic for this site but that is not the case. We are attempting to stay ahead of all threats to our freedoms and way of life and the threat of pandemics are real so are the professionals ready to respond should one occur.

It doesn’t really matter much if a pandemic is naturally occurring (and mutating) or deliberately spread by a human vector, the result would be similar. Almost 80% of all humans live in or close to large population clusters and any pandemic could easily overwhelm local authorities and require and international response headed by the USA.

Now Bird Flu is not a pandemic and probably never will be but I have seen a few articles painting it as a massive threat. Like the entire global warming scam, avian influenza is being spun as a much bigger problem than it actually is.

Medical professionals attempt to stay on top of outbreaks of diseases and as you can see we are in good hands. You have probably seen the hype now read the truth.
– Ronin

Bird Flu Threat: Real or Exaggerated?

By Heather Johnson, Guest Blogger

There has been a lot of talk about the bird flu, also known as avian influenza, in recent years. If we were to believe some of the initial hysteria years ago, most of us would be lying dead in the streets today. This isn’t to say we have no room for concern, as importing goods from overpopulated areas certainly increases our risk of transmitting emerging diseases. However, it is important to separate fact from fiction where the bird flu is concerned.

What is bird flu?

Bird flu comes from — you guessed it — viruses in birds. These viruses are natural in birds and wild birds carry quite a few in their intestines. While many birds handle these viruses without a problem, some domesticated birds can become sick from them and even die.

Can a human contract these viruses?

Yes, we can. According to the CDC, there have been reported cases in humans as far back as 1997. However, it is very rare to contract the bird flu and it has almost always been caused by directly handling sick birds. Human-to-human transmission is also unlikely at present time.

Is there a cure for the bird flu?

Laboratory studies have shown that the United States has several kinds of flu medications that should adequately treat the bird flu.

If it is rare to contract bird flu and we have medication, why is everyone worried?

There is cause for concern because flu viruses can become very resistant to medication through mutation. Since the bird flu is an “emerging disease” (i.e., new to modern medicine), a large outbreak could eventually render our medication useless. The operative word here is “could,” however. We are speaking in a hypothetical sense when discussing a human outbreak of bird flu.

Who is at risk for contracting the bird flu?

Overpopulated areas in third-world countries are always at higher risk of contracting viruses from animals. Also, those who work in the poultry industry could be at risk.

How do we reduce our risk?

To be blunt, you should “buy American.” The United States has the most stringent laws pertaining to the animals we import and consume. Currently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is taking biosecurity measures at our borders where birds are concerned. Of course, we still have wild birds to be concerned about, but living in the United States puts you in a lower risk category.

In short, the bird flu is a real condition, but is still a rare condition. Scientists all over the world are keeping a close eye on the emerging disease. Since cases have been reported for over 10 years and we still haven’t seen a large breakout among humans, this is a good sign. However, it is important for us to continue proper surveillance of domestic and wild animals. In the meantime, your energy is probably better used on worrying about the November election and not a theoretical bird flu pandemic.

By-line:

Heather Johnson is a regular commentator on the subject of CNA Online.
She welcomes your feedback and potential job inquiries at heatherjohnson2323 at gmail dot com.

Note: Her email address is spelled out in an effort to abate electronic robot spammers from spamming her.

Explore posts in the same categories: Guest Blogger, Pandemic

8 Comments on “The Bird Flu Threat: Real or Exaggerated?”


  1. To be blunt, you should “buy American.”

    I second that motion!!!

  2. jollyroger Says:

    But it sounds so cute

    Getting a bit bored with the scaremongering and need to know the unbiased facts of this rampaging global killer, from China?

    Crisis?

    So you’ve had a dire-ria day. Get compacted home. No post, no messages, no food. After finishing microwaving your Kiev you switch on the box. There he is, John Simpson telling you chicken is ill, and here’s another picture of your walking chicken Kiev, and here’s one being slaughtered. O wait there’s a professor telling you he’s concerned. And there’s the bin, and there’s your poultry Kiev in a sea of value eggs and edd the duck puppets.

    …more at http://www.lifestyleguides.blogspot.com

  3. Starlight Says:

    I think the threat of pandemic flu is actually much greater than most people realize.

    There was a lot of media attention several years ago, and some people seemed to believe that pandemic flu would begin in the next “flu season.” When that didn’t happen, they thought that the threat was overblown.

    But there was never a time limit on when a pandemic would start. The scientists and public health people didn’t say that.

    The H5N1 virus is still out there, still infecting birds, still infecting people, still spreading across Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. This morning we got news that 17 people are suspected to have avian flu in Egypt.

  4. Starlight Says:

    Birds…

    Domesticated birds do die in great numbers from high path avian flu – the death rate is virtually 100 percent, and any birds that do not die must be culled to try to prevent the disease from spreading.

    But wild birds are dying from H5N1 also, and they are dying in great numbers.

    Humans…

    There haven’t been many infections of H5N1 in people – yet.

    Officially 383 people have been infected – of those 241 have died.

    That’s a fatality rate of 63% – with good medical care and antiviral drugs. In Indonesia where the virus has been most active, the fatality rate has been over 80% – with good medical care and antiviral drugs.

    Many of these people were infected by contact with birds, but Indonesian officials say that at least 25% of their patients have not had contact with any birds.

    There has been confirmed human-to-human transmission. The World Health Organization confirms this.

    There hasn’t been *sustained* human-to-human transmission, but scientists are watching the virus mutate and it is acquring the changes necessary to pass easily from person to person.

    When the virus is able to pass easily from person to person we will have a pandemic.

  5. Starlight Says:

    A cure?….

    Right now there are two antiviral drugs that are being used – Tamiflu and Relenza.

    Unfortuately we do not have enough of either. The U.S. stockpile covers less than 20% of our population.

    And some strains of the H5N1 virus are already resistant to Tamiflu.

    Antiviral drugs are one of the best weapons that we have, but we do not have nearly enough and there is a good chance that the virus will be resistant.

  6. Starlight Says:

    Who is at risk.

    Everyone is at risk – not just overpopulated areas in third-world countries and poultry workers.

    To have a pandemic three things are necessary. It must be a new virus that no one has immuity to. It must cause severe disease in people and it must spread easily from person to person. The H5N1 virus already has the frst two requirements.

    When the last requirement is met and the virus is spreading from person to person easily, we will not need to worry about infected birds or the food we eat being infected.

    The virus will be spread from where ever it mutates to other continents by air travel. People are contagious before they have symptoms. So business people who travel to Asia or tourists will become infected and bring the virus onto their planes where it will infect other passengers who will then take it to their home towns.

  7. Ronin Says:

    Starlight,

    The article seems to have made an impression on you. I still think the bird flu was a false alarm but I still see pandemics as a global threat. Your response and counters are interesting and I’ll re-read them and let you know if I am starting to sway.

    Cheers,
    Ronin


  8. Ronin,

    An interesting website that tracks news of bird flu outbreaks:

    http://birdflubreakingnews.com

    Cheers


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