1. The site linked above says that the threat is "currently" low. Apparently, medical practitioners have been watching for this little sucker ever since February of 2004, and the U.S. Depeartment of Health and Human Services and Center for Disease control are like, all over it - kinda. It's sort of been on the back-burner, from what I can gather - because we haven't really been threatened by it over here in our happy little hemisphere.
2. Granted, the Star Tribune said that if the pandemic strikes, some 1.25 million Minnesotans will be infected and then because of the hospital bed shortage, 20,000 will die. I, for one, think that's a load of crap and want to know where in the screaming hell they got that figure from. For one thing, unless we have a massive amount of tainted chicken (which is practically the only way the flu can be contracted), ain't no way that many people are going to get sick. The CDC referenced only three cases of human-to-human transmission.
"One instance of probable limited human-to-human transmission of influenza A (H5N1) virus was reported in Thailand between a child and her mother and aunt in September 2004. Health authorities in Vietnam are investigating two possible instances of limited human-to-human transmission in family clusters. One instance involves two brothers in Vietnam with confirmed influenza A (H5N1) infections; a third brother was hospitalized for observation only and did not become ill. In the second instance, a daughter developed symptoms within 6 days of her mother’s onset of illness, which was confirmed as influenza A (H5N1)." Still, these observations were made over a year and there are only three examples... in Asia where the big outbreak is occuring.
Another thing that kind of irritates me is the "we don't have enough hospital beds here" argument. I know hospitals are too full, my Dad tells me that all the time - as he works in the medical field. Still, saying people will die waiting for treatment? Dude, if I contract the avian flu and the Minnesota hospitals are all full to capacity I will go to another state and get treatment. ... or just get some drugs! Wheee!
3. Oi! Though there may not be a vaccine, there is treatment! It's not like this is the modern "consumption" and if you get it we'll give you some iodine, hold hands in a circle, and hope. Avian flu is resistant to amantadine and rimantadine, two antiviral medications commonly used for your standard, run-of-the-mill influenza, BUT two other antiviral medicines oseltamavir and zanamavir have worked - though not always consistantly. Honestly though, when has any medicine ever worked consistantly (I couldn't find individual links on them but if you are really invested, you can read this FCDC Statement. I did, and it's really not that exciting.). Also, have people forgotten that we do, in fact, have a flu shot?
4. I, personally, am not worried about this. Not everyone that gets the flu will die, and from the figures I found on the death rates of those infected it's pretty much your standard flu - depending on your health. The death rate for the avian flu has been approximated at 50%, which seems scary until you look up your standard influenza and see that it's death rate is approximated at around 15%. It is important to note the relative health of those affected, and the likelihood of contracting this disease. See #5 for details. The Avian flu is very similar to your average flu, you get a cough, sore throat, blah blah and your only real danger is if it develops into pneumonia which could happen with any flu. Guess what, pneumonia is treatable too. Hundreds of people die from the flu and common cold daily, most of them elderly(89%) or already weak with something else. Someone who is even moderately healthy really doesn't have a whole hell of a lot to worry about. Especially since unlike your standard flu, you can easily protect yourself from contracting the virus. Most people who have been infected have gotten infected on or near poultry farms. Sometimes it's in the meat, if you're feeling concerned - stay away from chicken. Don't let your children eat goosedroppings or pick up dead birds. Wash your hands and sterilize cooking surfaces. It's not exactly rocket science - especially since the disease hasn't really shown up here.
5. You want to see blown out of proportion? I'll give you blown out of proportion. Here are some numbers:
"A total of 65 people have died from the disease in Asia since late 2003, 44 in Vietnam, 12 in Thailand, five in Indonesia, four in Cambodia."
Since 2003. Also, how much are you willing to bet that these people already weren't in tip-top shape? I'm willing to bet they suffered from at least malnutrition. Maybe they couldn't afford health care. Alright, I know that's not exactly fair to make those assumptions, but it is a fact that most of the people that unfortunately passed away suffered death by chickens, and/or chicken farms. Again, I say unto thee. If thou fearest the illness, consume not the chicken.
Any thoughts on this shameless scaremongering? I talked to my Dad, who is a registered nurse, and he says it's a bunch of baloney. I'm inclined to agree. So with that, how 'bout that Dog flu? Ahahahhaa!