Short and Serious: Avian Flu

Okay, first of all, this is a short post, because I don’t really have a functioning computer desk, because my keyboard shelf has given up the ghost for the last time. Particle board desks do not appreciate being taking apart and put back together more than say, once, maybe twice. This poor thing has had this treatment three times in a year, and that was enough. It is done, finished, over, and gone.

So, we haven’t put the new desk together, and as I do have a wee spot of the carpal tunnel, I don’t want to spend too long typing in this bizarro position.

So, I thought I would post a bit about the Avian flu, which is tangentially food-related as this killer virus is carried primarily by domestic poultry. And while so far, it hasn’t seemed to mutate into a variant that can jump from human to human, there are folks in Asia who caught it from birds dying from it anyway. Not a whole lot of folks, but enough to make myself, and the World Health Organization, a tad bit paranoid. (Ever hear of a pandemic? I bet you wish you hadn’t.)

So, I decided to highlight a few news items relating to this current health issue, just to, you know, maybe get folks to pay attention to it and you know, be prepared. (How do you prepare for a pandemic?)

So, today, the EU has issued a health warning to their citizens to not eat raw poultry (do people do that?) or eggs (okay, that I know from) because there have been some wild birds infected with the fatal Avian flu virus found in Croatia. They have also suspended importation of poultry and eggs from countries where there have been outbreaks. Mind you, the link between humans eating infected poultry products and catching the disease has not been proven–it is just a supposition.

Here is a good overview of the issue of a possible avian flu pandemic which delves deep into the science of it, but in a language that laypersons can wrap our heads around.

What is the US government doing about the possibility of an influenza pandemic? Well, some money has been allocated for research, but some congressional democrats say this isn’t enough, and warn that the Bush administration is delaying on taking action while other countries, such as Great Britain, have already started implimenting their plans. (I am not surprised–considering how well FEMA responded to a hurricane that it could see coming for days–none of us should expect our government to work efficiently to avert a disaster that is formless and on the horizon.)

It isn’t just the democratic congresscritters who are upset about how unprepared the US government is in the face of avian flu; Micheal Leavitt, Secretary of Health and Human Services, is also pretty sure no one is ready to deal with this issue.

What can we do?

Well, Tamiflu, an anti-viral, might help prevent you from getting the virus in the first place, but I will tell you the first line of defense is to eat well, and have a good immune system, and WASH YOUR HANDS. Often. All the time. Most people pick up influenza viruses from touching surfaces where the virus hangs out for a little while until you get it on your hands. Like lavatory knobs in public restrooms, or telephones.

Also, as noted by an anonymous, poster, check out Flu Wiki, and especially take note of their preparedness guide.

And, in the case of an epidemic–have some supplies in your home–food, water, that sort of thing. Food deliveries may be affected and slowed, and one of the surest ways to have a strong immune system is to be well-nourished. Stock up on any medication which you need on a daily basis, and have lots of soap, and for situations where you have no water, get some hand sanitizer, too, and maybe some breathing masks like medical personnel wear.

After that, I guess we all pray a lot, and hope that the damned virus doesn’t mutate any further.

And on that cheery note, I will leave you all to have as sleepless a night as I am going to have.

I promise that tomorrow I will post about something more happy.


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  1. I suggest checking out the, a collaborative site aimed at informing people and empowering them to act at the local level to prepare. It’s been set up by health professionals in the US.

    Comment by Anonymous — October 27, 2005 #

  2. Thank you for that link–I am adding it to the main body of the post so that folks can get to it easily.

    Comment by Barbara Fisher — October 27, 2005 #

  3. I’ve been making rather short terse warnings about the avian flu on my blog recently.

    I’m really afraid that its going to have a BIG impact very soon and you’ve basically outlined every single reason why I worry about this coming pandemic.

    Thanks for the links and suggestions on ways to prepare and deal with it.

    Comment by Rose — October 28, 2005 #

  4. Welcome, Rose.

    Yeah, I have been paying attention to this avian flu thing for a while–and the signs are not good. Not good at all.

    I guess I posted about it here–on a food blog–as a means of saying, “Hey–this is important enough that not only the political bloggers need to go on about it–it is something that concerns us all.”

    And it does. And I fear that we do not have the infrastructure on a federal level in this country to deal with it in any kind of organized or constructive fashion. In fact, I am hoping that it is local communities of people who can come together and help each other survive this–because I don’t believe that we in the US, at least, will have anything from the feds this time around.

    Suffering and death obviously do not concern this administration, as illustrated by the response to Katrina, so I doubt that much in the way of help will be forthcoming in the face of a disaster of the size of a pandemic.

    Comment by Barbara Fisher — October 28, 2005 #

  5. Interesting thought on that one. I think I heard something similar the other day on another board. I can’t remember where though.

    Comment by Health Resources — March 4, 2006 #

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