Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Bird Flu watch -- best advice at this moment

I'm stealing half a post here:

It's been confirmed in north Germany today (and let me remind you, the suspected human H5N1 case was the cook on a ship which had last docked in Germany), Iran and Austria. Nor is it "expanding" into new territory. It's been there. There were reports of relatively large die-offs in northern Iran since last fall. There were incidents in Germany.

This is not the spring migration, which is still to come - this is 'fessing up after increased monitoring. You won't find what you won't seek. Since any country that found H5N1 was going to get quarantined, every country had a very good reason not to seek. The whole thing has been purely political. There was no way to stop an infection spread by migrating birds, so there was no reason at all to step forward and invite economic distress before it was unavoidable.

And don't think that if these birds made it to Europe in the fall that they didn't make the much shorter hop to NA. The Qinghai strain was far closer to Alaska in the fall than to the Baltic. The US poultry industry quietly instituted an H5N1 sampling program for poultry sent to market in January. Ask yourselves why. I watch the hawks disappear around here and I know what I think. I don't think the Qinghai strain made it to south GA last fall, but I think a milder strain did. I think the Qinghai strain made it into NA last fall, and will spread this year as the weather warms. We're going to find out in a few months if I'm right.

If you eat eggs, hardboil them. Ten minutes boiling. Don't fry them. They might not get hot enough during frying to kill the virus. Don't prepare chicken for cooking without gloves and wash your hands after you have touched eggs. Bleach is by far your best friend. Stock up and use it. Get used to not touching your face unless you have just washed your hands. Get used to taking off your shoes at the door when you come home. Wash the doorknobs and taps at home down once a day with bleach.

You can be (and testing demonstrates that people have been) exposed to even the most virulent strain of flu without getting sick. A high initial dose of the virus gives it the jump on your body's immune system. A low dose will be overcome by your natural defenses. When you have never been exposed to a particular flu virus before, your body is slower to gear up to fight it. Don't be afraid of exposure - just make sure that you avoid a high exposure.

(The other half of the same post addresses antisemitism, which together with bird flu is the other of twin political plagues in our time. I have no quibble about the main point but I do not agree with some of the writer's conclusions.

(This is delicate ground on which we tread. Any discussion of Jews and Israel is by definition a string of hot-button topics: religion, politics, bigotry, race, culture and history. Any of these frames of reference with regard to Israel or Jews is subject to inflammatory ideas, but taken together, tumbling one after another, can quickly paint a Jackson Pollock-looking picture.

(A question is raised {What is the reason for all of this "nuance"? } regarding what I would rather call discernment, a careful handling of ideas that calls for as much delicacy as the movement of a scalpel in the hand of a surgeon. My point is quickly illustrated in the next few lnes which conclude that anyone advocating nuance -- like me -- is either a hysteric or a coward.

(There follows a couple of bracing references to bears and facism, not intended to be open to debate, so I dare not open any. So go learn something from Maxed Out Mama whose attention to everything she writes about is as intense as a laser, even if I don't always care to be standing in the beam.)

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