Monday, February 05, 2007

Apoplexy outbreak scare

There is mounting anger, in Britain, over the official response to the outbreak of bird flu at a poultry farm last night after it was confirmed that the strain of disease is the deadly H5N1 virus.

It took a full five days before European Union scientists managed to conduct tests and were able to confirm that the virus at the farm, in Holton, near Halesworth, was H5N1.

Having been through bird flu and mad cow scares at close quarters, in BC Canada, I expect there will be more casualties from apoplexy than H5N1 in Britain.

I have commented before about the CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) agents, decked out in moon walking suits nailing quarantine signs on farm gates; drivers putting on a great show of spraying vehicles at the gate; of those farmers who boosted the threat in the hopes of boosting compensation payouts.

It was a circus and the showmanship was superb, but that is all it was. Of the two outbreaks in BC, the first occurred in the provinces highest area of bio-security. An area which had been constantly subject to quarantine rules. The second an open duck farm on the Chilliwack River.

In both cases the infection was introduced by wild birds, not from ground level carriers. You know those wild birds which tend to shit indiscriminately, even in high bio-security areas? The first incident caught everyone by surprise, it happened during the 2004 Canadian election campaign. Hundreds of thousands of birds were needlessly killed for the sake of optics.

The second outbreak was more managed, the hysteria kept under control. Only flocks with signs of the virus were destroyed, the rest was sideshow.

There is a real danger in communities where ‘farmers’ live among their flocks. Those are the areas where transmission become a real problem.

In reasonably well managed farming regimes, the only way to stop the introduction of these diseases is to destroy all wild birds, and that is not going to happen. But there is still no need for mass hysteria. A well managed and targeted cull is the only reasonable response.

The problem isn’t going to go away and it isn’t going to be helped by screaming headlines and public hysteria.

1 comment:

Praguetwin said...

Don't panic. That is my motto.

I'll be off in Frankfurt trying to make money for the company. Back in a couple weeks.

Take care.