Michael Fumento has written an excellent article about the 'avian flu':
"Race to Prevent World Epidemic of Lethal 'Bird Flu,'" and "Hong Kong 'Bird Flu' Could be the Next Big Outbreak," blare the headlines. Former Washington Post reporter and author of a book on viruses, Robin Marantz Henig, penned an essay called "Danger in the Air: Why Hong Kong's 'Bird Flu' Signals a Serious Threat," chock full of scary "what-ifs."
Meanwhile, "What is frightening about this flu strain is that it is unlike any that has infected people before," NBC News tells us. We repeatedly hear of this new "deadly flu," or "killer flu," or to cite one headline: "Mutant Killer Virus."
Now, for a reality vaccination.
All influenzas are "mutant killer viruses." Flu always mutates at least slightly each year. That's why you need a flu shot each year, because the antibodies that you got from the last one (or the bout of flu you caught last year) will no longer afford you full protection from the new strain.
A flu that didn't kill would never be noticed. It would just be one of zillions of viruses we carry around that do us little or no harm. Each year on average, about 20,000 Americans die of flu.
Finally flu, of course, is always a virus.
Indeed, all flu is probably also "avian." Its "reservoir" is generally ducks, and sometimes geese and chickens. They usually suffer little from it or not at all. But when their feces infects a water supply (or domesticated animals, usually pigs), they can transfer it to humans.
Oh, by the way, this isn't a recent article. Fumento wrote this in 1998 about an altogether different--yet all to familiar--'avain flu'. So why all the hubbub? If all flu is 'avain flu', why is H5N the dreaded bird flu? If all flu mutates, why is this one the mutant killer?
In an interview October 11th with Dennis Prager, Fumento said that the only reason he could think of that officials of all kinds are so worked up about this particular flu, as opposed to the many other influenzas we are bombarded with each year--a flu which cannot yet, and may never be able to, pass from human to human--is that the hurricane Katrina disaster has made them afraid of asserting that there is little risk of this flu being worse than any other flu, for fear of eventually being proved wrong by random chance.
To top it all off, medicine has come a long way since the 1918 Spanish flu. We know things now that we didn't know then. Things as simple, for example, as its good to give fluids to people who have the flu. In addition Fumento says the US already has 20 million doses of vaccine that prevents H5N. And there are new anti flu drugs like Tamiflu which fight influenza virus after a person already has the flu.
There may be political hay to be made from this small outbreak, but as Fumento says, "exaggerating the
risks of a deadly flu pandemic and failing to point out that medical science
has advanced tremendously since 1968 – much less since 1918 can do little more than cause an hysteria pandemic.