10. It would be a calamity if bird flu triggered a pandemic before we had the weapons to fight it.
The Current Pandemic
With communications the way they are today, every time bird flu crops up somewhere it is reported in the media. This happens on a daily basis and, it seems, with a growing sense of urgency. Now we hear that bird flu has appeared in Italy. Communications weren’t like this in 1918. Victims of that earlier pandemic didn’t know what hit them until it hit them. Now, there is this tremendous lead up to an event that may or may not happen. A UN official says we are only two mutations away from having a deadly virus that is transmissible human-to-human. Of course, those two mutations are the crucial ones. If they happened easily, we would have more pandemics. But they don’t happen easily, and they may not happen this time. My point is that the pandemic we are experiencing right now is one of fear and apprehension, spread unwittingly by the media. (I know I talk about bird flu a lot, but I don’t report every time somebody coughs like some websites do, and I try not to get involved in the hype.) The drum beat is only going to grow louder in the months ahead. It will make an actual pandemic, if it occurs, worse in some respects and better in others. Because of the constant reporting of bird flu, the sense of panic among the people will be greater. But also because of the constant reporting we will be better prepared and better able to deal with an outbreak. And hopefully we can avoid losing millions of human lives like we did in 1918.
Tags: bird flu, avian flu, pandemic, H5N1, flu, influenza, health, media,
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