Race of evil birds plans bio-terror attack

This week’s visit to Pravda (have we missed a visit somewhere back there?) gives us this brief piece outlining a possible threat to humanity from the latest strain of avian (or “bird”) flu originating in Far Eastern chickens and travelling via ducks (the old Marx Brothers bit… China? Marx? Never mind…) quite possibly into a strain transmittable to humans.
The reference to the Spanish flu, of course, refers to the pandemic that broke out right after World War I, and killed well over 20 million world wide (around the same number as the world war itself). The reference to the Black Death, if possible, is even more ominous, as the bubonic plague transmitted by rats killed something around a third of Europe’s population around the 1300’s.
While I would hope that a large part of the world, with modern public health measures, would be far less susceptible to a pandemic than they were 85 years ago, given that the world, in large parts anyway, is already subject to an AIDS pandemic, reducing immuno-resistance as it is, and given the much larger population and the “mega-metropolises” (massive cities well over 10,000,000 people– several in China and India, Karachi, Pakistan, Lagos, Nigeria, Mexico City, Rio and Sao Paolo, Brazil), I would have to guess the possibility of a devastating pandemic with worldwide deaths well in excess of 1918-19 levels is hardly out of the question.
As always, Americans prove totally incapable of assessing the actual risks of anything. Hence, we seem to have no problem as we value “intellectual property rights” of government subsidized pharmaceutical companies who refuse to set realistic prices for AIDS drugs in the third world as more important than (1) saving human lives over there, and (2) reducing the possibility of devastating pandemic that will infest and blow back over here. We stand by as our own government– alone in the world– fails to step up to make sure it has ample alternative supply of this year’s flu vaccine (a mistake that will probably result in the unnecessary shortening of thousands of American lives). But we go apeshit at the possibility of (Arab) terrorists exploding a nuclear device in one American city.
The fact is, I would guess that pandemic is a far likelier threat to our nation’s people. My guess is that the attention it receives from our government would be something like “zero”. Why? There aren’t the immense profits to be made from heading off a pandemic that there would be to solve such burning problems as heartburn (sorry), baldness, depression, obesity…
Pravda sends us a polite little wake up call. While I would hope that we take our collective head out of our ass and “think globally” about public health, other than gay-bashing and government spending without paying for it, it’s hard for me to think of anything the majority of Americans care about. Including our own health and safety.