There has been a lot of new about Bird flu, and given the fact that only five mutations are needed to start an epidemic, and that scientists figure we are halfway there, there are real worries.

The latest scare is that not only has the dangerous form of Bird Flu been found in British chickens, but one of the vets helping with the problem has been admitted to a hospital with flu like symptoms.

The actual results aren’t back yet, and of course it is cold and (normal) flu season, so it might just be a scare, but it is worrysome.

Then we have another death from Bird Flu, this one in Egypt. Everyone is worried about the Egyptian outbreak that has killed 19 people, because most of the cases were resistant to normal anti viral medications. But the latest death, a teen aged girl, just had the “normal” strain of the flu, not the drug resistant type.
Bird flu has also been reported in North West Pakistan and in nearby Afghanistan and India.

But the country that most worries scientist is Indonesia, where more than 60 people have died of bird flu in the past two years.

That government has stopped sending samples to some international labs after signing an agreement with a company that supplies bird flu vaccine. Apparantly, someone views the flu virus as a “property right” and won’t give it to public sources.

The Indonesian government is now saying they have eliminated backyard chickens, but one suspects a combination of inefficiency and corruption that this policy is not being carried out accuratly.

Backyard chickens often supply eggs and meat to poorer families, and in countries where cockfighting is a passion, making men kill their pet fighting cock might well be impossible.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines with her husband. her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket

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