The Lady Speaks

Hey, I’m not the only one!

It's always nice to find you're not alone in your opinions, especially when it comes to the current national hysteria over bird flu.

From Rebecca Cook at MSNBC:

Doomsday predictions about bird flu seem to be spreading faster than the virus itself. But a small group of skeptics say the bird flu hype is overblown and ultimately harmful to the public’s health.

There’s no guarantee bird flu will become a pandemic, and if it does there’s no guarantee it will kill millions of people. The real trouble, these skeptics say, is that bird flu hysteria is sapping money and attention away from more important health threats.


 It’s hard to blame people for feeling skittish. The chief avian flu coordinator for the United Nations, Dave Nabarro, said last fall he was “almost certain” a bird flu pandemic would strike soon, and predicted up to 150 million deaths. The U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Mike Leavitt, advised Americans to stockpile cans of tuna fish and powdered milk under their beds in case of an outbreak. Renowned flu expert Robert Webster has said society needs to face the possibility that half of the population could die in a bird flu pandemic.

“Ridiculous,” scoffed Wendy Orent, an anthropologist and author of "Plague: The Mysterious Past and Terrifying Future of the World's Most Dangerous Disease."

She said public health officials have vastly exaggerated the potential danger of bird flu.


Even if avian flu transforms into a human pandemic, it may be mild. The most recent flu pandemic, in 1968, went unnoticed by everyone except scientists because it wasn’t much worse than a normal flu season in terms of illnesses and deaths.

Government officials continue urging people to prepare by stockpiling a few weeks’ worth of food, water and medical supplies. But skeptics like Siegel and Orent say you’re better off guarding against more realistic dangers — heart attacks, for example, or even gum disease.

“I’d worry more about flossing my teeth than I’d worry about avian flu,” Orent said. “I want people to see what the real dangers are.”

Some other articles/op-eds to read:

The Center for Consumer Freedom

Highlighting the absence of a threat doesn't attract nearly as much attention as a propaganda-laden animal rights protest, or a headline that screams "Bird Flu Pandemic May Have Worldwide Cost of $800 Billion." But it does have the virtue of letting you enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner in peace (assuming you've also gotten your guests to sign our lawsuit waiver, of course).

Dr. Marc Siegel's Op-Ed in the Boston Globe

Why provoke the public to see a potential pandemic in end-of-the-world terms? A pandemic simply means people in several areas having a disease at the same time — but it may be hundreds rather than millions. The last flu pandemic, in 1968, killed 33,800 Americans, which is about the flu's toll in an average year. We don't need to panic in advance for that kind of pandemic.

Cooking poultry kills any flu 100 percent of the time, yet the fear of H5N1 bird flu is already so out of control in Europe that 46 countries have banned French poultry exports after a single turkey was found to be infected. France, fourth in the world in poultry exports, is already hemorrhaging more than $40 million a month. 

Michael Fumento, JD in an Op-Ed on the AMA website

The best-kept secret of the current fuss and, sadly enough, hysteria over H5N1 is that the virus has been in existence well beyond its highly publicized Hong Kong appearance in 1997; the virus was initially discovered in Scottish chickens in 1959 [2]. The virus has therefore been mutating and making contact with humans for 47 years. If it hasn’t become pandemic in that half a century, it’s hardly inevitable that it will.


April 25, 2006 - Posted by | Bird Flu, Government, Health, Science

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