6 Apr 2006

The Bird Flu Debate

:: if a bird falls out of the sky, get out of the way! ::

So again i find myself in a medical fact/myth debate. That seems to happen often in these parts. The topic BIRD FLU. The issue most eastern europeans seem to think they are going to die if they see a bird, or eat chicken or enter the city limits of a town where the virus has been found.

Well we are planning to go to Torun this Saturday because it is a beautiful medieval town, the birth place of Copernicus and the home of Polish 'pierniki' or gingerbread! But at the beginning of March there were 2 dead swans found there with the flu... And so opens the debate. To GO or not to GO?!?

Well after finishing a degree in biology to me it seems quite obvious. Find out the facts. How is it transmitted? Has there been more occurances? Are we at risk? So as it turns out...
  • There is no evidence that properly cooked poultry or eggs can be a source of infection for avian influenza viruses
  • bird flu is only fatal if caught by someone who already has the flu
  • H5N1 virus does not usually infect people (190 cases since 1997)
  • and so far, spread of H5N1 virus from person to person has been rare

For more facts visist the Center for Disease Control website... http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avian/gen-info/qa.htm

Like my dad pointed out, the birds were probably flying north, returning home from some infected country and happened to drop dead in Torun. Hence Kim's advice, "if a dead bird falls out of the sky, get out of the way!" The CDC also gives some useful advice... "Do not pick up diseased or dead wildlife."

No disrespect intended to my myth believing friends. But knowledge is power. We can live our lives in fear of the unknown, or we can find out and know the truth and live in the freedom of it.... not only when it comes to bird flu :)


Eric Asp said...

Well spoken, Krista. It seems that most of the hysteria around Bird Flu is driven by fear more than fact. But because it sells newspapers and draws audiences to its programs, the media cannot stop themselves... Have fun in Torun.