Thursday, May 25, 2006

Bird Flu Conspiracy Mongers

There are some bright lights out there. Mainstream Media (MSM) is not one. Bobbing-headed newsreaders on your local TV station are not. The FDA and CDC are not.

Todd Ackerman of the Houston Chronicle is. Barbara Loe Fisher (NVIC founder) forwards his article about the continuing conspiracy to promote fear of a bird flu pandemic, and she adds her notes in an email:

The bird flu hype has been fanned by public health officials using fear tokeep the public scared out of their wits about a bird bug. Capitalizing on the federal fear mongering are drug companies who have already gotten a freehandout from Congress to create money-making bird flu vaccine factories aswell as a free ride if experimental bird flu vaccines ever hurt anybody. Atrisk is not only the American taxpayer's wallet but also the public healthif a bogus bird flu vaccine is forced on every man, woman and child inorder to recoup Pharma's R&D costs and justify the taxpayer handout.

Ackerman makes several salient points. If you want to calm yourself completely about any threat of a bird flu pandemic, read the whole piece here.

Otherwise, here are some highlights, starting with that news story a few days ago about the Indonesians in a single family who all died from human-to-human transmitted bird-flu virus:

The most recent reported deaths attributed to H5N1 were those of six Indonesians, five of them in an extended family. The deaths, reported last week, initially were investigated as a "cluster" that health experts feared could mean the virus was mutating into a form more easily passed between humans. World Health Organization investigators have all but ruled out human-to-human transmission, saying the virus likely was caught from infected animals.

When was MSM going to tell us the second half of the scare story--that it was a false alarm?

The skeptics warn of the dangers of overreaction, citing 1976's swine flu debacle, when more than 40 million people received a vaccine against a new pig virus that, ultimately, never took hold. The virus killed one person, a military recruit whose speedy death ignited the crash program. But as many as 1,000 people who were inoculated developed a paralyzing nerve condition; 32 died.

But what if the bird flu really did take off (no pun intended)? After all there was the huge Spanish flu in WWI that killed so many people.

But Paul Ewald, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Louisville, said such pathogens would lose their virulence, a law of natural selection ignored by those who fear the worst-case scenarios.
"Everything we know about evolution says pathogens have to become more mild to keep their host mobile," Ewald said. "If they're so virulent the host can't pass them on, they don't survive."

The exception, he said, occurs in "disease factories" - environments where people immobilized by illness can easily transmit a virulent pathogen to new hosts - which is what happened on World War I's Western Front with the Spanish flu. Hospitals, trains and trenches packed with deathly ill and healthy soldiers facilitated the disease's lethal spread.

And the same old bottom line is hit by Ackerman at the conclusion of his discussion:

Some critics see a different "agenda" behind the public concern about bird flu - funding. Butcher says President Bush's $7.1 billion flu pandemic plan means a bonanza of grant money for researchers and the justification of the budgets and existence of agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the World Health Organization. ..

I'm concerned that the public discussion about bird flu, the new bug "du jour", is so weighted with end-of-the-world terms that it's causing a kind of hysteria," said Siegel, author of "Bird Flu: Everything You Need to Know About the Next Pandemic". "The greatest problem isn't influenza - it's fear of influenza."

Talk about fear of contagion--with the no-liability factor attached to the new batch of bird flu vaccine, I'll be staying the hell out of my local pharmacy the day they offer the discounted shots. Who knows what's gonna be in those vials they're opening?

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