Monday, October 17

bird bird bird, bird flu is the word

Avian influenza—or in its more catchy incantation, bird flu—has been in the news a lot lately, with some scary headlines. The San Francisco Chronicle has a story today, "Why Bird Flu is So Dangerous," that's unusual for a newspaper: it does not focus on some new finding or have a scary headline, but simply breaks down what bird flu is.

The piece explains how this latest bird flu is just one of many that have chugged through bird and sometimes human populations ever since people have known what the flu is. But the latest one is worrying because it has begun to pass from birds to humans, and it may be only a matter of time until it mutates to a form that passes between people. That's the key step to creating an epidemic killer, like the 1918 "Spanish flu" that killed 50 million.

I hope articles like this help ameliorate public ignorance about the bird flu. According to an AP story:
Americans fearful of bird flu are peppering health officials with all sorts of questions, such as "Is it still OK to have turkey at Thanksgiving?"


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