Wednesday, February 22, 2006

When the chicken started to cough, I knew we had a problem

So, you may know (or may not, which is likely as I have not seen a lot of coverage of this story in the American press) that the Bird Flu arrived in Germany last week. It promptly killed about 100 birds on an island called Ruegen, which is no where near where I live. Although most of the media here has tried to be very matter-of-fact and not blow things out of proportion, there is some "panic."

The latest rumor is that the World Cup Soccer Tournament will be cancelled. This was published in Germany's most read newspaper, the Bild. However, I think that paper loses some credibility because it features a "naked woman of the day" on the front. Anyway, Spiegel thinks that rumor is for the birds (read the article via the link, it is in English and is really good). And I tend to agree.

As I saw on the BBC the other day, you catch the bird flu if you come into direct contact with an infected bird. Frankly I don't see the world's best soccer players running out and rubbing their hands all over dead swans.

I do think the bird flu is something to be taken seriously, but panic and ridiculous speculation do not help. My fear is not that some pandemic that will kill millions of people is going to break out, but instead is focused on the potential damage this could do to the economy of the region that I live in. This is the egg, chicken and turkey producing capital of Germany (you have to be good at something, eh?). If they begin to kill millions of birds preemptively, think of how many people that will put out of work. Right now all the birds are being kept indoors. We will have to wait and see what happens.

As for me, don't worry, mom. I tend to stay away from all dead animals and I have no intention of getting a job at a food processing plant. We have also switched from eating chicken to pork. It is the other white meat, you know.

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