Monday, March 13, 2006

So What Up With Bird Flu?

Deadly Bird Flu Expands in Africa, Europe

Associated Press Writer

March 13, 2006, 5:41 AM EST

YANGON, Myanmar -- Myanmar reported its first case of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu, and there was a high risk poultry in Afghanistan were also infected, officials said Monday, a day after the virus gained new ground in Europe and Africa.

Lab tests confirmed the outbreak in northern Myanmar after 112 chickens died, said Laurence Gleeson, a senior official at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, citing a report from the Myanmar government.

[....]New cases were also reported Sunday in Poland and Greece -- two countries already touched by bird flu -- in the latest signs of the disease's expanding range.

In Afghanistan, meanwhile, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said that an H5 subtype of bird flu was found in poultry samples in Kabul and Jalalabad, and that there was a "high risk" further tests could prove the samples to be the H5N1 strain.
Hm. Afghanistan and Iraq. Can't hit America, though, can it?
Ready or Not, Bird Flu Is Coming to America


March 13, 2006 — 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.

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.

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.
Hm, maybe Bush ought to start wiretapping birds' cell phones? For all the effectiveness of his domestic spying program, he'd do better by banning all birds from flying into US airspace.

He could send F-18s after migratory geese, or a few Apache helicopters after some starlings. And look out for them sparrows, those guys are nasty little terrorists, believe me, my car's hood can attest to that!

Gallows humour, to be sure, because this epidemic is going to be a lot worse than we're prepared for.

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