not a member? click here to sign up
DISEASE: One flu over the cuckoo's nest
Annual article: A year in the world of disease reviewed.
The Whole Hog, 20 Dec 2005
While we’ve had lots of war, famine and death, we haven’t had a real pestilence scare since the first AIDS pandemic in the 1980s. There have been close calls of course, like SARS and Ebola, but nothing that caught the imagination as a real tangible potential killer of millions. Until now.
Though deadly serious, it’s also funny. There are people who don’t have a clue what avian means, who can tell you in great detail about this new flu-to-come.
It’s already among birds, flying around the word. It’s going to jump species sooner or later. It is said that millions will die. It also emerged that Ireland had no meaningful strategy, that is, no stockpiles of the right antiviral drugs like Tamiflu.
It’s a bit better now, we think, but cynics keep muttering things like ‘iodine tablets’. Which wouldn’t reassure you!
By October, avian flu had arrived in Romania. It’s no longer a disease somewhere far away, where they live beak-by-jowl with their chickens and ducks. Now it’s among our incoming migratory wildfowl. Somewhere in the distance the horsemen’s hooves are heard.