Thursday, March 13, 2008

Fighting Bird flu

What if they took your rooster?

I’ve been pondering that ever since I read the bulletin board outside of the CHC x-ray room while waiting for my son. I’ll read anything when I’m bored.

There was a memorandum about the Avian Influenza plan. As usual, I immediately thought of roosters. I know what to do when you find bird flu: first we kill all of the chickens*. Slaughter them for miles around. Burn or bury them. That doesn’t leave much room for error on an island the size of Saipan.

The memo didn’t say this, but that seems to be standard practice. Can you imagine the reaction to that reaction? Cockfighters have a lot of time and money tied up in their birds. They’re hard to replace, given that the sport is illegal in the U.S. except for the Marianas. (Somebody might have to correct me about Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa.)

We’re probably on borrowed time. I thought of this again because I saw some feathered friends today who seem to be migrants. Because of our location, they’re probably Asian tourists.

Let’s just hope sick birds get reported. I’m a little worried that someone might just get rid of the carcass to protect the rest of his roosters. We might not learn about it until there’s a human case, and the mortality is high. At least the hospital would catch it quickly. They’ve got a plan.

*Apologies to Shakespeare, and lawyers.


bigsoxfan said...

I'm not an expert in the field of infectious diseases, although I've seen one potrayed on TV. My understanding through Nancy Reyes, of the finest kind medical clinic, is that an infected bird wouldn't live long enough to travel from the PI to Saipan (quam is perhaps a differnt story, but they have federal customs and immigration rules, so we don't need to worry). If a human carried the virus to the CNMI and then infected a cock (or chicken), we would all be screwed. Everyone, everywhere. Air travel is a convience and a horrible danger, but for now, transmittal is chicken to chicken, plus those unlucky enough to come into contact with an infected LIVE bird. However, an island wide chicken cull brings some great images to mind. You think a few fireworks shooting off into the crowd would spark a panic, imagine Hv-571. The feathers would fly.

yo bro said...

The best fact repository that I know is

they have a discussion forum at

as for bird migration, you'd better not count on being remote. some species travel great distances. there are also accounts of h5n1 virus in cats, other mammals, even flies. all it takes is someone smuggling an ill animal.

the other aspect which deserves attention is the fragility of "just in time" civilization. What do you do when the truckdriver and air freight, shipping workers don't show up. how much food, say rice, for instance is held in reserve for

If the virus changes to a more contagious variant for humans some predict several "waves" of infection lasting several months, perhaps as long as 6 months or a year.

if you want to examine what happens when chicken culls occur, just look at the reports from Bengladesh and India, Indonesia.

yo bro said...

is my personal "pandemic flu canary"* site. Phd Dr. Niman is somewhat controversial, since he argues that recombination (think of virii parts swapping) is at work in influenza, rather than the random mutation which has been the prevailing theory of virus change.

Niman's site keeps track of movements of the virus geographically by looking at dna subcomponents.

He keeps accounts of "clusters" of human infection, since this may be one of the early ways to apphrehend the shift to a pandemic variant.

*(my stab at mortuary humour)

bigsoxfan said...

And the good news is? Oh right, the hospital has a plan.

Of course, I'm in Mongolia where the fattest chickens are quality birds from China. "Pass, me the steriod sauce, honey. This breast needs some plumping up". Thanks for the links though, bro. I'll visit them when I want to read something scary.

yo bro said...

then there's fried rat...

video from the wall street journal?