Bird Flu...Real Threat or a Hyped up Hoax?

December 2005, Warren Matthews


A couple of weeks ago on the first evening after having arrived home in New Zealand from three weeks in Thailand, China and Hong Kong, I sat down in front of the TV to catch up on the local evening news. What was the lead news item? You guessed it! Bird/Avian Flu". My word... it was scary stuff!

A couple of weeks ago on the first evening after having arrived home in New Zealand from three weeks in Thailand, China and Hong Kong, I sat down in front of the TV to catch up on the local evening news. What was the lead news item? You guessed it! Bird/Avian Flu". My word... it was scary stuff!

The experts who were being interviewed were predicting up to 1.25 million deaths in New Zealand alone! Now, that's pretty serious given that the entire population of New Zealand is only around 4 million...

Then, after I left the TV in disgust I went to my computer and found an email from a customer with a copy of a newsletter with the title, "How to survive the Coming Influenza Pandemic".

The newsletter was from a supplement company promoting a supplement which was apparently the answer to the Bird Flu "Pandemic". This was interesting stuff, particularly the section in which they referred to an incident in Bangkok, Thailand. This is what they said, and I quote...

  • A tiger in Bangkok, after being fed slaughtered chickens began to sicken and died.
  • Of roughly 400 tigers in the zoo, slightly more than a hundred either died of the disease or had to be destroyed.
  • Domestic cats in Thailand were found infected and a leopard in another Bangkok zoo. These are the first known flu infections of any sort of feline.

That's pretty frightening eh? Or... is it really? More on this soon...

The next night there was an item on the news again about people putting together 'survival' kits for the "Bird Flu Pandemic" as a result of which, billions of people throughout the world are about to die a horrible death. They even had a kid of about 12 who had used his pocket money to put together his own personal survival kit. The only thing that he was missing was his personal supply of Tamiflu because it is all sold out!

If he really knew the truth regarding the possible effectiveness of Tamiflu he would not have been worried about not being able to get it.

OK... how do I feel about all this media exposure regarding Bird Flu and references by the media to a 'Pandemic'.

I can't really put in print how it really makes me feel... but... I can say that it "annoys me more than a little bit". Why?

Because, it is absolute nonsense and simply amounts to transference of wealth from the hardworking tax payer to either the pharmaceutical companies or any company that can put forward a good case for research funding. On top of that there are many unscrupulous companies in the supplement industry distorting the true situation to promote products.

There is no Bird Flu Pandemic...

And the risk of one is minimal to say the least!

As an example of distortion let me refer back to the Tiger story! As you may know we have a regional office in Bangkok and I spend quite a lot of time there so I'm pretty familiar with most of the important events that occur there.

The tiger incident referred too, occurred over a year ago and hardly got a mention in the local press (between March and October 2004) and there have been no cases of sick tigers since. The tigers involved had been fed dead raw chicken carcasses! Enough to make anyone sick, even tigers if the carcasses had been left lying around in the sun for too long.

It was suggested that the bird flu virus was involved but there are still some unanswered questions. How does this relate to humans? When did you last pick up a dead chicken carcass and eat it raw? : Let's face it, although I don't know the exact figures I would take a bet that more than 100 people a year in the US die from food poisoning as a result of eating undercooked chicken. Wonder if these deaths will now start to be blamed on Bird Flu?

OK... to the bottom line! Don't get taken in by all this media hype regarding Bird Flu about to destroy the world as we know it. Also, the references to the Spanish Flu of 1918 and the suggestion that we are overdue for a Pandemic is scaremongering in the most irresponsible form. There is no evidence to suggest that a Pandemic is inevitable just because we haven't had one for a while!

Do you need to do anything?

Should you be doing anything extra to protect yourself from this perceived Bird Flu threat? No, not really... at least no more than the common sense steps you should always take to avoid any sort of flu.

Make sure that you employ good lifestyle practices that are helpful in escaping any type of virus whether it is a flu type or some other version! (We are surrounded by hundreds of them and have been all our lives).

An example of good lifestyle practices is simply sensible hygiene! Avoid touching your face and mouth with your hands after you have touched doors or any other items in a public place. If you are prone to touching your mouth or nose with your hands it may be a good idea to carry some bacterial wipes to keep your hands clean.

What else can you do? The most important thing is to ensure that you keep yourself healthy and do whatever you can to sustain a strong immune system. Not, out of fear of the Bird Flu but simply to help avoid any sort of virus or flu.

I have read an enormous amount of material about this so called Bird Flu Pandemic. I have reviewed all points of view, some of which are poles apart. One of the most interesting articles was one written by Tim O'Shea entitled "Avian Flu: The Pandemic That Will Never Be".

I'm not saying that I agree with everything he says as there are flaws in it but you may find his point of view interesting. If you would like to read it click here

Take care and watch the Bird Flu hype on the media with amusement or annoyance...

In good health,

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