HomeFeaturesDailyBriefingsRapidReconSpecial ReportsAbout Us

Pre-Thanksgiving Flu Scare

It is completely understood that there is disagreement about the spread of the H5N1 bird flu virus and the question of its potential human impact. Not even considering the Bush Adminstration's focus on Pandemic Flu preparedness, large parts of the United States, as well as the rest of the World, are responding to H5N1 and its derivatives as though it is real. I know that the Delmarva Poultry Industry is concerned about the spread of bird flu. Their concern lies not only in the effect an outbreak might have on their businesses, but also because of the possible human jump.

Migrating birds from eastern Europe have been blamed for bringing the deadly H5N1 strain of avian flu to Britain after it was discovered at a farm preparing to supply Christmas turkeys to Waitrose. Some 5,000 turkeys, 1,000 ducks and 500 geese are being slaughtered at the free range Redgrave Park Farm in Suffolk after H5N1, which has killed more than 200 people around the world since 2003, was identified.

Earlier today, the chief veterinary officer of the U.K. Department of the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) confirmed that the strain of Avian Influenza present at the infected site is the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain. Although the British authorities have essentially closed off the area by enforcing a 3 km protection zone, a 10 km surveillance zone,

Even though there can be arguments and disagreements about the human threat, turning a "blind eye" to the possibility of a spreading and mutating H5N1 virus would be wrong. The economic impact within the poultry industry alone warrants attention. The prospect of a human contagion makes it even more critical.

I stand by my previous alerts on this subject, and will probably add to this entry as time permits.