It seems you can't turn on the news or radio without hearing a story of how to prepare for the inevitable bird flu pandemic. Now I've been hearing from people around here who are going to begin stockpiling food which I think is ridiculous. I'm all for disaster preparedness, but this just seems like Y2K all over again. (I did not prepare for Y2K either.)
I was listening to a story about bird flu on NPR a few days ago, and I couldn't help but wonder if this whole thing is just a cover up for something else. I remember during the Clinton years, when the Monica Lewinsky story broke, all of a sudden it became a big deal that one of our embassies was attacked; it was top news for several days.
What bothers me the most about the bird flu scare is that all the stories say that pandemics routinely happen and so there is no way that another one won't happen. Each story then goes on to say that the last pandemic was in 1918. Seriously, that was almost 100 years ago. We have made quite a few medical breakthroughs since then. I don't think there were flu vaccines in 1918 like there is now. There is even a vaccine for birds being used now.
A point that is not emphasized in the stories is that the virus is only transmitted from bird to human, not human to human. There is just a chance it could mutate into a virus that could be spread among humans. The NPR story said that "when" not "if" the pandemic breaks out that it will spread quickly and tens of thousands if not millions will die. I do believe that it is possible for an outbreak to be disastrous for third world countries, but it's hard for me to imagine an outbreak in the U.S.
One news article I read said a way to protect yourself from getting bird flu is to stay away from sick or dead poultry. Ok, will do!