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Is Bird Flu the Next Y2K?

Andrew Norton

Remember how the world was going to face mass chaos and horrific events when the year 1999 rolled into the year 2000? All those folks who listened to the daily barrage of the impending doom who stockpiled food, water, and purchased generators. Then, the clock struck midnight and our computer's internal calendars rolled over to 2000. Nothing. No riots in the streets. No worldwide blackouts and panic. It was yet another panic caused by overzealous media and politicians.

I believe that the current bird flu craze is in the same vein as Y2K. I think it is easy to stir up public panic when the media dishes up daily stories related to bird flu. Bird flu is not something that is new in the past few years.

It has always been around. The avian influenza (bird flu) pandemic of 1918 is evidence of this. In the current bird flu frenzy the media is creating there have only been 103 deaths attributed. My fear is that once again the news media is playing Chicken Little and claiming that the sky is falling because it makes for a good story.

10 years ago we didn't get daily reports of recent bird deaths. Now, it seems every time someone spots a dead bird it is because of the West Nile Virus or possibly (gasp) bird flu. Don't birds ever die of natural causes? I know I have been unfortunate enough to snuff out a few birds that flew in front of my truck. I didn't see any crime scenes or news crews gathered around investigating those deaths.

The point is this. More people are dying from influenza (you know, the regular old flu) each year than the worldwide deaths attributed to bird flu. Did you know that each year 36,000 people in the United States die from influenza? Yet, all we hear about is bird flu which has only claimed 103 individuals worldwide.

For more media frenzy coverage, the Lansing State Journal has a story about how Michigan is smack dab in the middle of the migratory path of birds that could be carriers of bird flu.