Saturday, November 05, 2005


Bird Panic

Yesterday I was at the doctor's office getting a routine check up. I was sitting in the waiting room trying to distract myself with the pages of People magazine. The office began to get more and more crowded. Just at the point when the last seat was filled a nurse came out from the back and said, "I am sorry, we are out of flu shots."

The crowd began to revolt.

"I have to get a flu shot! I have to get one now!" screamed a woman with orange hair. She threw her camel colored suede handbag to the ground and started stamping her feet, "What are we supposed to do now!" she screamed some more. "I always get a flu shot, I need one this year!"

The situation grew more and more chaotic and everyone joined the orange lady in a unified public outcry, to the point where I put down my People magazine and watched the Jerry Springer episode unfold before my eyes.

I have never gotten a flu shot so I couldn't understand what all the fuss was. Until I realized that in addition to the normal fall flu freakout people are now totally cracked out over the Avian flu (aka the bird flu).

So I came home and did a little research on the WHO website to put some perspective on the bird flu. Here is what I learned:

1) Current phase of WHO's "Pandemic Alert" = level 3 ("No or Very Limited Human to Human transmission")

2) Total number of cases to date 122. Deaths 62

3) The Avian flu (H5N1) is transmitted through poultry. "To date, no evidence indicates that any person has become infected with the H5N1 virus following the consumption of properly cooked poultry or poultry product," Translation. Dont eat raw chicken or 'runny' eggs.

4) The following countries are effected by this epidemic: the Republic of Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Indonesia, and China.

5) The long term concern is that disease will change from an animal to human virus to a human to human virus causing a Pandemic. That has not happened yet.

So, before we all throw our handbags to the ground, stomp our feet and demand a flu shot lets get real for a second. While a pandemic could kill thousands of people (the last pandemic killed 1million people in 1967) we are not there yet. But, guess what? The flu shot we get in America DOES NOT prevent the Avian Flu.

Still freaked out about bird flu? Wash your hands and cook your chicken.

p.s. I woke up this morning to footage of chickens on CNN as the anchor said, "take a look at the next threat to national security." Also from that same progam, "There is no bird flu in the United States. It is fine to eat your Thanksgiving turkey."

No wonder people panic.

I have never gotten a flu shot either... and have no plans to start. Personally, I think they are a ploy by the government to inject us with calming drugs so that we are drugged and happy and don't question the things they do. Hey... look what happens when people don't get their fix!

On top of that... flu shots only help against a small number of flu strains. Yet new strains and mutations are popping up all the time. I sincerely doubt that a flu shot is going to do anything to help against a human-mutable strain of the bird flu.

What surprises me is how the country seems to run out of flu shots EVERY FRICKIN' YEAR! It's understandable people get upset, because the same thing happened LAST year.
EXCELLENT POST XTINE! you're totally reading my mind and my frustration over the f*cking hype with the bird flu. seems like we're seeing a difficiency of reason with this issue.

there's a ton that would have to happen before the public is in any danger. yet, some of the "experts" out there have already made up their minds that everyone's gonna die of the bird flu.

this type of story also brings out the greediness and paranoia of the public. i also heard that the makers of tamiflu had to halt the sale of their product because stupid paranoid people were hoarding the supply.

ah well, while these people have retreated to their bird-flu shelters, they'll be plenty of poultry for the rest of us! fried chicken, roast chicken, duck in orange sauce, roasted turkey......
I'm all for being prepared, but I have to agree they are going about this public (mis)information campaign all wrong. And yes, people, the flu shot not only doesn't protect you against avian flu, it only protects you against a couple of strains that they guessed might be affecting us this year. How did we get to be so gullible?
smart commenters, this is all a distraction from what's going on in our governement, those terror alerts just arent doing what they used to.
Too funny, Xtine, your blog is heating up! 1st the War Room, then your own Middle Eastern adventure, and now the bird flu shot travesty.

I just got my flu shot, as well, the Navy doctor made sure to point out 1) I am in no way protected against the avian flu, and 2) I am not protected against Arabic flu strains, and as Donna said, only a few tired strains of flu that barely get anyone anymore.

Ha ha you made me laugh so hard-great post and so witty too!
Maybe the price of chicken will decrease enough to offset the price of gasoline!
The news....sensationalistic? That unpossible!

Remember Mad Cow disease? It's scary when healthy concern crosses that line into senseless panic and public outcry. I've never gotten a flu shot and, so far, so good.
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My work gives us flu shots every year, and I really don't like them. Usually they just make me get the flu, whereas when I don't get the shot I'm fine. Now I've heard rumors we're getting some up-the-nose spray shit that makes you get the flu big-time this year. Damn people who think the flu shot even helps. Unless you're older, easily succeptible to things, or a small child, I really don't think there's a point in getting the shot.
And why do people freak out every time there's some new virus? Morons.
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