Friday, 28 October 2005

Foot in mouth returns?

Whilst I do not run with the bird flu pandemic worries shown in some of our more sensational media, I reckon there is cause for a little dignified concern. The 1918 figures as to numbers of deaths and the rate at which the virus spread make it seem like some Weapon of Mass Destruction. Obviously, hygiene levels and spread controls were not then so sophisticated as we now have. People lived in closer proximity. The tamiflu protection did not exist. Even now we have it, it only works on ordinary flue. Even then, it needs to be injected within 48 hours of onset of flu.
But, it seems that the actual make-up of the drug that will be used to counter avian/human flu has to be tailored to suit the way the virus has changed so as to get from animal to human food chain. This means that production cannot start until we have cases up, running, declared and identified. Somewhere I saw that this process could take months with distribution and vaccination adding more time. All the while the dangerous-to-humans strain is amongst us.
OK - there will be delays involving the uncontrolled spread of the killer infection. Our Government seems sanguine about this. Remember how confident they were that foot and mouth was no big deal? So, put your faith in the politicians and 'experts'. Then I read that the testing which laid the blame at the door of some South American parrot may not have been all that wonderful. Could have been some Taiwanese chick that shared with the guacho. Just a minor error - one or the other was right and they are now all dead anyway. But, says Doubting Thomas, there had been a consignment of birds at the quarantine centre that overlapped the Taiwanese. Maybe some of them were sick but unnoticed. Where are they now? Sold to individuals.
I have not seen anything (yet) regarding application of ministerial boot to chemists' arse on the topic of getting things a little bit more on the ball.
The drug company that will - in the fullness of time - produce the avian flu antidote has said that to get things in gear, it will need additional factory space and feels it should be recompensed for this. Enter old moneybags Brown. Cue delays.
Doubtless there will be dispute as to who gets the counter-agent as the first supplies trickle down. Something I have every confidence our government will solve. Not.
I don't suppose they will have to burn dead humans as they did the cattle and other livestock; all I hope is that Brigadier who solved disposal last time, is still on hand.
So - I am not panicking. I can see the potential for an almighty cock-up. I wait - I would say with baited breath but puns are cheap and objectional in matters of life and death.
I have done my bit to help. Talking with an old codger the other day, he asked how we would know if we had bird flu. I explained we should be suspicious if we started to mount our ladies from the rear with much cackling and flapping of arms whilst stamping our feet. He said he'd try to avoid this but they did need the eggs.

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