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Monday, October 16th 2006

Indonesia Rapidly Becoming Known For More Than Beautiful Beaches

Run For The Hills! The Bird Flu Is Here!

Also, don’t forget the jihadist! They’re apparently racking up those as well.

So, so far we’ve identified Indonesia with beaches + bird flu + terrorists. *Sigh* I’m never going to be able to get a visa into Indonesia ever again. So sad.

The real news I’m leading up to however, is that Indonesia has recorded its 53rd avian flu death.

The boy was from south Jakarta. Authorities say he had had contact with infected birds. He became ill earlier on during the week, was taken to hospital after bird flu like symptoms were identified last Thursday, and died Saturday evening.

Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, consists of more than 18,000 islands spread over a large area. Backyard poultry is an essential source of food. Despite the continuous rise in the death toll, Indonesian authorities are reluctant to carry out mass culling of birds – they say it would be extremely expensive and a logistical nightmare.

Update!! The death toll has risen to 54 with the passing of an elderly woman.

In more news intended by the media to send shivers down you spine, a strain of H5N1 has been found in Ohio birds!

Northern pintail birds in Ohio have tested positive for a low-pathogenic strain of the H5N1 bird flu virus, the U.S. government said on Saturday, adding to recent cases in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Michigan.

A strain of the H5N1 avian influenza virus was found in “apparently healthy” wild birds sampled October 8 in Ottawa County, located on Lake Erie about 15 miles southeast of Toledo, the departments of Agriculture and Interior said.

There may be an explanation however,

The government said it was conducting additional tests to determine, in part, if the ducks had H5N1 or two separate strains with one virus contributing H5 and the other N1. A second round of tests could take up to 21 days to confirm whether it was the low-pathogenic H5N1 bird flu.

Soon To Be Quaranteened Quarantined…Or Something

All joking aside, avian flu is indeed a real public health risk. I stand by my long held contention that we will never see H5N1 cause a 1918 size pandemic. Now, it is reasonable to argue my prophecy may be fulfilled because there has been so much work done to squelch its spread by governments and health officials and that all this ruckus actually was the thing that prevented a pandemic. Fair enough.

Even in that case, the media coverage of avian flu has been horrendous, biased, and unnecessarily alarming in most instances.