Monday, October 31, 2005

One Flu over the Cukoo's Nest

This episode: The Sky IS Falling or Chicken Little's Flu

My word one can't turn on the TV or the radio these days without being frightened half to death. If HaliBushHitlerBurton doesn't get you the bird flu will! The hysteria building over the so-called avian flu seems a little over the top at this juncture. With a total of about a hundred cases and 62 deaths in a world with 6+ billion souls the hype doesn't quite measure up to the facts.

The bird flu officially known as H5N1 is making headlines around the world provoking the Bush Administration to get in the act with proclamations that government ordered quarantines and military order will be authorized in the event a pandemic ensues.

The cynics and conspiracy buffs are all abuzz with theories that this is a rouse to sell vaccines and drugs (the Bush Aminstration is behind this too, of course). Personally I think the President is mostly guilty of "me tooism" - stung by the criticism of the Katrina affair George doesn't want to be seen as uncaring toward the elderly and weak who would most surely be the first victims of this flu should it ever strike this country. The White House wants to be out in front of this one.

Last night the Discovery Channel or the History Channel aired a "Worst Case Scenario" special that would see the world fall into such ruin that there would be no hope of ever clawing our way back again. It was thoroughly depressing and not even that entertaining.

Out on the Internet there are a few voices of reason - bloggers, of course - but there is certain official who likes to see his face on TV so he can sell his books who sent me over the top. Michael Osterholm, who is familiar to us Minnesotans having been our state epidemiologist before becoming a world famous doomsayer, was all over the TV last night scaring the shit out of everybody. I have been listening to this guy for years telling me that one thing after another is going to kill me. First it was AIDs, then acid rain and ozone holes. Last year it was SARS followed by the regular old flu because of the vaccine shortage. After 9/11 there he was telling us that anthrax and small pox would devour major urban centers like the giant heart that ate Philadelphia.

I'm sure Mr. Osterholm is eminently qualified to speak to these issues but so far I am still alive, amazing I know, but yes, I am still kicking. I sincerely hope nothing comes of this (other than a few giant pharmaceuticals shore up their bottom lines) and Michael Osterholm continues his hitless streak.