Web Zap*Germs Archive

December 22, 2005

More On The Relative Threat of Avian Flu

In his blog, WaPo scribbler Joel Achenbach muses about bird flu. His thoughts come in the aftermath of having published a "9-jillion word story" on the disease in the WaPo Sunday Magazine. After all his research, he's still not all that scared:
[W]e just don't know yet if this is going to be the Big One. It could turn into a pandemic on the scale of 1918 or it could remain essentially just a bird flu that sometimes infects an individual human being. Or it could find some middle ground, becoming a relatively modest pandemic, along the lines of the 1968 flu virus.
([F]rom the story: "Countless people on the planet suffer from rather mundane but totally treatable and curable diseases. The leading killer worldwide of children is diarrhea caused by parasites. Those children don't need a new vaccine; they need clean water."
Perhaps I should be more alarmed about this new bug, but I'm more worried about crossing the street, because I know that's dangerous, having seen someone hit by a car and mortally injured just 13 days ago. So if you're driving, don't drink, and stay alert; if you're walking, cross at the crosswalk, and remember to always look both ways. In other words, take care of the basic stuff before you worry about the exotic threats.
And for most of the world's population -- those of us not living in close proximity to both farm-poultry and farm-pigs in Southeast Asia and China -- I don't think we should be all that scared, either.


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