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THE GREAT BIRD FLU HOAXTHE TRUTH THEY DON'T WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT THE "NEXT BIG PANDEMIC"
By JOSEPH MERCOLA PAM KILLEEN
Nelson BooksCopyright © 2007 Dr. Joseph Mercola with Pam Killeen
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTHE PLAGUE THAT NEVER WAS
What You Really Need to Know about the Bird Flu
In 1918 children would skip rope to this rhyme:
I had a little bird, Its name was Enza. I opened the window, And in-flu-enza.
Since 1997, when the first human contracted the highly pathogenic bird flu virus (H5N1) in Hong Kong, the disease has affected nearly fifty countries. Bird flu has taken its toll in many areas of Asia, Africa, and Europe, killing 132 people as of the writing of this book. Millions of birds, both domestic and migratory, have also been killed as a result of the spread of this disease. To date, however, there hasn't even been one single reported case of the highly infectious bird flu in North America.
The title of this book, The Great Bird Flu Hoax, is not meant to suggest that the H5N1 virus does not exist, or that people have not died from this strain of the bird flu. The H5N1 virus is genuine, and the deaths it has caused are tragic and not to be disregarded or belittled in any way.
But after years of media-driven panic about the illness, only a relatively small number of people have been affected by it, compared to the millions of people who have died from many other acute and chronic diseases that genuinely threaten us today. The widely forecasted bird flu pandemic has not yet arrived, and as you will discover by reading this book, it is never going to arrive.
The widely forecasted bird flu pandemic has not yet arrived, and as you will discover by reading this book, it is never going to arrive.
The bird flu "hoax" is the deliberately disproportionate attention the media and government are putting upon this specific infection in an attempt to frighten you about a nearly baseless threat. Once you understand the factors we review in the book, it will become quite clear that the motivation behind this media promotion is straightforward-there are a number of individuals and corporations that are profiting greatly from the frightened frenzy that is being created.
Before taking a closer look at those groups and their motives, first I'd like to tell you the information about the bird flu that you aren't being told-what it is, how far it has spread, and why, in all probability, you will never catch it.
What Is the Bird Flu?
The bird flu virus itself is nothing new; it's been around for ages. There are several strains of avian influenza, some of which have been shown to infect humans: these include viruses of the H5 subtype (H5N1), the H7 subtype (H7N2, H7N3, H7N7), the H9 subtype (H9N2), and the H10 subtype (H10N7). In total, there are 144 possible strains of the bird flu.
For many centuries, the bird flu has typically been a relatively minor illness even in birds. The recent appearance of the highly infectious bird flu strain H5N1 that has killed poultry and now people is a new phenomenon, and it is likely not due to some unfortunate and random genetic mutation. Rather, the occurrence of this more dangerous form of the virus coincides quite nicely with the increase of large poultry operations (factory farms) and transnational poultry production. As I will explain in more detail later, the emergence of this highly infectious bird flu virus is closely related to the current practices of the poultry industry.
Many "experts" have blamed wild birds, rather than the primary culprit, factory farming practices, for the spread of the virus. Some have alleged that wild water fowl can act as hosts by carrying the virus in their intestines and shedding it in saliva, nasal secretions, and feces. But the viruses circulating in wild birds are generally not the highly pathogenic avian influenza strains (called HPAI viruses) that cause deadly bird flu; they are low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) viruses that often do not even cause symptoms in the birds themselves.
Highly infectious bird flu viruses can cause severe epidemics in domestic chickens. Infection can result in a wide spectrum of symptoms in birds, ranging from mild illness to a very contagious and rapidly fatal disease. Symptoms of the bird flu infection in humans can depend on the particular strain of virus.
Several outbreaks of different strains of avian flu have been identified in various countries around the world, almost always with no reported human deaths. While HPAI viruses such as H5N1 have not appeared in North America, one variant that is less infectious to humans, H7N2, has been found in poultry in eight states since 2001. In 2004, another similar strain (H7N3) was found in large poultry operations in British Columbia, Canada. As a result of these outbreaks, millions of poultry were killed in an attempt to stop the spread of the disease.
Whenever a bird flu virus has been detected among poultry, millions of birds have typically been destroyed as a control measure intended to limit or halt the spread of the disease. As H5N1 has been found in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, about 200 million birds have been sacrificed at the altar of disease prevention. One of the problems with this approach is that many, if not most, of the birds that are killed in this manner are not necessarily sick at all; they are simply considered to be "at risk." In addition to culling birds, in some cases vaccines have also been used as an extra measure to stop the reemergence of the virus.
If you're worried about "catching" the bird flu, it's important to note that most varieties are not fatal to humans; but more importantly, nearly all of those who have been infected with any strain, including the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus, have been in close contact with sick poultry. So if your circumstances don't bring you in close contact with sick birds, your risk for acquiring this infection is remote at best.
Generally, in cases of avian flu outbreaks that affect humans (H7N2, H7N3, or H7N7, for example), it is poultry workers who have become ill, and they usually only exhibit some flu-like symptoms or eye infections (conjunctivitis). In 2002, during the H7N2 outbreak in Virginia, a government worker who was involved with destroying poultry suffered fever, a cough, a sore throat, and a headache. In 2003, an H7N7 bird flu outbreak in the Netherlands mostly infected poultry workers, causing one death and some speculation that there may have been three possible instances of transmission from poultry workers to family members.
Australia had outbreaks of HPAI in 1976 (H7N7), 1985 (H7N7), 1992 (H7N3), 1994 (H7N3), and 1997 (H7N4).
Italy had outbreaks in 1997 (H5N2), 1998 (H5N9), 1999-2001 (H7N1), and 2002-2003 (H7N3).
The Republic of Ireland had an outbreak in 1998 (H7N7) that spread into Northern Ireland as well.
The highly infectious H5N1 virus has been found in several countries, moving from the East (China), to the West (France), and into Africa. The World Health Organization (WHO) explains that humans who have been infected by the H5N1 virus demonstrate a variety of symptoms:
High fever and influenza-like symptoms
Bleeding from the nose and gums
As with all strains of bird flu, the majority of humans who have been infected with this form of the virus have been in close contact with sick poultry. In a few cases, officials determined that the virus could have spread through human-to-human contact. In the majority of such cases, the people who were infected were in close proximity to each other.
Officials claim that they are concerned about this particular strain of the bird flu because it has killed over half of the infected victims. While this fatality rate would certainly be alarming if true, it is far from accurate. There is an important distinction to make. In The New York Times article "Bird Flu: A Less Deadly Disaster?"(March 16 2005), Lawrence K. Altman, M.D., mentions that for every person sick enough to seek treatment there are likely many others with a milder form who forego examination or testing, which skews the fatality statistics.
Why Did President Bush Cry Wolf?
However, it is inarguable that bird flu is a potentially deadly illness. And the news media has been rife with stories theorizing that it could become the next great pandemic. Will bird flu kill hundreds of thousands, even millions, as some have predicted?
Simply put, no. It won't.
In November 2005, President George W. Bush wrote a letter to the public encouraging people to prepare "ourselves, our nation, and our world to fight this potentially devastating outbreak of infectious disease."
But on April 14, 2006, Julie Gerberding, the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), participated in a conference designed to encourage state and local planning for pandemics, where she made statements that were in sharp contrast to those of President Bush.
In reference to the avian flu, Gerberding said that "there is no evidence that it will be the next pandemic." She noted that although the disease has killed about half of the two hundred people known to have been infected with the virus, the victims were in intense, daily contact with sick flocks, often sharing the same living space, and that only two people had become infected by person-to-person contact. She added that there was "no reason to think it ever will" pass easily between people.
Gerberding urged the media to be cautious about how they report on the subject, and pointed out that "there will be temptation for the press to make this into something it is not." In order to prevent irrational panic, Gerberding called for "responsible journalism."
"There will be temptation for the press to make this into something it is not. We will need responsible journalism." -Julie Gerberding, head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Many others have attempted to make a similar point. Dr. Eva Wallner-Pendleton is an extension veterinarian and senior research associate at the Penn State Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences. Her field of study includes diagnostic pathology of poultry, game birds, and exotic species. On April 18, 2006, Dr. Pendleton spoke about protecting small flocks from bird flu as part of a workshop on Avian Influenza (AI) and Current Poultry and Human Health Issues. During her talk, she mentioned that she was actually more concerned about the spread of avian cholera on farms than she was about avian influenza.
She discouraged the audience from accepting the panic-driven "it's not if, it's when" approach to the bird flu issue. She urged public health officials and the media to take a more professional and measured response to the situation.
When a production crew from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) interviewed Vancouver's chief medical officer, Dr. John Blatherwick, they expected him to endorse the mainstream message of doom and gloom surrounding the bird flu pandemic. Surprisingly, he laughed at the prospect: "You're more likely to be killing yourself eating big batches of fries and hamburgers-leading up to a heart attack-than you are to catch any of the diseases you're reading about ... The avian flu is not going to be the next pandemic."
Although Blatherwick agrees that preparedness is important in the event of a real emergency, he disparaged the "sky is falling" message and the idea of wasting resources on something that has yet to materialize. "Worry about walking across the street with the crazy drivers," he argued. "Worry about stuff that is real."
Dr. Shiv Chopra, veterinarian and microbiologist, is just as critical of the idea that the H5N1 virus could cause a pandemic:
Infectious diseases in animals, including bird flu, can occasionally transmit to humans ... But it does not then spread from a thus infected person to the next person to the next person. For example, people handling cattle or sheep carcasses can get anthrax but anthrax does not spread from people to people to cause human epidemics ... Any microbiologist who tells you otherwise is lying. This is an absolute lie. It has not happened, it will not happen, it cannot happen. We know that from science."
On May 22, 2006, the editors of Maclean's magazine wrote what seems to be a warning to the World Health Organization and other organizations involved in spreading fear about the bird flu. In their article "Paranoia, Bird Flu and the World Health Org," they wrote the following:
... in recent years the World Health Organization has frequently allowed preparedness to mutate into paranoia. You'd think it would have learned from the SARS debacle, during which it issued a warning for foreign tourists to avoid Toronto, even though the outbreak was miniscule and quickly contained. Ebola and West Nile raised similar panics. When our guardians of global health tilt at every windmill on the epidemiological landscape they erode their own credibility. One day, there will be a genuine crisis. We can only hope that the public won't have tuned out the constant alarms.
"Pandemic" Appears to Be Ending Before It Even Began
In May 2006, Dr. David Nabarro, chief pandemic flu coordinator for the United Nations, announced that there have been fabulous success stories in Thailand and Vietnam concerning the H5N1 virus.
Although health officials did not go so far as to say that H5N1 had been completely eradicated in those countries, they were pleased to note that in Vietnam, which has had almost half of the human cases of H5N1 flu in the world, they had not seen a single case in humans or a single outbreak in poultry all year. Thailand, one of the hardest-hit nations behind Vietnam and Indonesia, had not had a human case in five months or one in poultry in six months. They attributed their success to aggressive measures such as killing infected chickens, vaccinating healthy ones, protecting domestic flocks, and educating farmers.
Also in May 2006, Wetlands International, one of the leading animal welfare agencies monitoring the bird flu, reported that birds migrating between Europe and Africa did not spread the virus that spring, as had been expected. Thousands of birds were tested, and not one case was found. Officials differ in their views, but many agree that it is highly unlikely that the H5N1 strain of the bird flu will arrive via migratory birds in North America. According to Ken Rosenberg, director of conservation science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, "If avian flu were to show up in U.S. poultry, migratory birds are probably the least likely source of infection."
According to Maria Cheng, a spokeswoman for the World Health Organization, as of May 2006, "We haven't seen the virus move to as many countries as we saw in the beginning of the year." Furthermore, she added, reports of human cases may be declining. Even though the overall number of deaths had been declining, shortly after Cheng had made this remark several Indonesians died, raising the country's death toll to forty-one.
Human Infections from Bird Flu
One reason why the avian flu usually doesn't spread easily among humans is because it seems to infect cells deep in the lungs. Theoretically, it is easier for a normal human flu strain to spread since it lives in the throat and nose, rather than deep in the lungs like the H5N1 virus. (It is thought that the normal flu virus is passed easily through sneezing.) Until recently, no evidence suggested that the highly infectious avian influenza virus was able to spread in the same manner as the normal flu.
Excerpted from THE GREAT BIRD FLU HOAX by JOSEPH MERCOLA PAM KILLEEN Copyright © 2007 by Dr. Joseph Mercola with Pam Killeen. Excerpted by permission.
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