A friend speaks on the avian flu

Text by Chris

A lot of you have shown concern about the current Avian Flu hype, and even emailed or called me with advice to be cautious, especially seeing that I raise and handle birds and fowl.

The bird flu that is of concern right now is an avian influenza Type A (H5N1) virus. This virus was first isolated in bird populations in South Africa in 1961. It is carried worldwide in wild bird populations and is not usually a problem in healthy wild birds.

Most people are right that the concentration camp type conditions that many domestic birds are kept in has made them vulnerable to what would normally be just another bug that birds carry. Think about the diseases that humans fell prey to in concentration camps in W.W.II. Poor sanitation, starvation, stress, and overcrowded conditions can cause a normally easily controlled disease to infect and spread to large numbers of a population.

H5N1 is usually species specific (only passed from bird-to-bird). The horrible conditions in which the affected population (both bird and human) live has caused H5N1 to possibly mutate and VERY RARELY jump to humans that are in direct contact (feces, saliva, infected surfaces) with the infected domestic bird populations. So far, it has not been shown to spread from human-to-human, and if it does it would probably only spread from the originally infected human to one more human.

In 1918 we did not have Tamiflu or antibiotics. The living conditions for people back then, were very poor, and the W.W.I soldiers were exposed to horrible conditions, returned from the trenches very sick, and were housed in huge sick wards at home.

I'm not saying that this virus is harmless, but I do believe that we need to be informed, and not panic over the media hype. The people that raise poultry that I've met on the internet, and in person, are so concerned with diet, housing, and raising healthy, happy birds that I would think we are at VERY LOW risk for infection. Protect your flocks from wild bird contamination in their feed, and just keep doing what you all do so well.

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One final note, there has been 46 cases of Avian Flu in the world over a period of two years. Think about how many people die of Aids, Smoking Related Disease, the common cold, and alcohol every hour !!

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