Friday, October 07, 2005


Get out your masks and take chicken off the menu, the media is warning us of a pandemic of Bird Flu! This ailment thus far has limited itself to those who work in the poultry industry in mostly Asian lands. However, scientists say it is traveling and they also predict that it will soon be able to transfer from one human to the other, just like plain old ordinary run-of-the-mill everyday flu.

My knowledge of this disease is rather limited, so I don't know if sparrows and blue jays are affected by it. But, if they are, we may not herald the sight of the first robin this Spring. We may not extoll the beauties of the bluebirds, the orioles, the cardinals. We may start promoting stray cats as we never have before.

The threat of a pandemic of Bird Flu is so expected that the nations have banded together to discuss what they can do. Seems simple to me! Force every pharmaceutical laboratory capable of doing so to produce umpteen tons of whatever medicine it is that cures this bug. I understand only a minute amount of this medicine is available at the moment. They might also work a little harder on a vaccine.

Perhaps they are doing all this. I don't know, since I wasn't invited to the International Conference. The invitation must have gotten lost in the mail. But I did hear that President Bush wants to bring in the military to enforce quarantines. And that the scientists have reproduced the Flu that killed millions after World War I. What good that will do, I don't know. I just hope they keep it confined to their labs.

Funny thing is, I can remember quarantines. As a child, I can remember seeing big yellow notices tacked to doors. Quarantine! Spooky stuff, and no one with any sense approached such a doorway. It didn't seem to take the Army to keep those people in and others out.

But, in the case of a pandemic of Bird Flu, entire areas may have to be quarantined. This means that people would be confined to a single neighborhood and would not be able to move about, even with masks. This brings to mind some problems, but no sense worrying about it. We have our duct tape ready for an atomic attack, I'm sure some of us can survive quarantine.

However, I do hope they have food delivery, medical care, and other vital services included in their HANDY HOME GUIDE FOR QUARANTINING UNFORTUNATES! I also think they should figure out what to do with dead bodies if this pandemic causes many of us to pass away. We can't exactly toss people out on the sidewalks or roadways. ...nor can we expect crowds at the funerals.

I tell you, this planning for pandemics and other disasters is not easy. One thing I worry about is my supply of coffee. Even if I am quarantined, I hope they make coffee available to me. I just can't wake up in the mornings without it. A doughnut would go nicely, too, but I don't want to overload the services.

Perhaps if I bribed that National Guardsman guarding my door, he would make sure I had a ready supply of coffee. He will undoubtedly be wearing a protective suit of some kind and may even hope he'll be reassigned to New Orleans. The muck there may be less deadly than the air around the Bird Flu sufferers.

From what I understand, the symptoms are similar to plain old ordinary run-of-the-mill everyday Flu, with the addition of possible conjunctivitis, which translates to Pink Eye.
Pink Eye, for God's sake! It's bad enough to sniffle and snort your way into oblivion without doing so with itching, glowing eyes! I've been around kids and Pink Eye long enough to know that it is highly contagious. First one person has itching, red, festering eyes, then the next and the next, until it becomes a colony of Pink Eyed People. The thought of it is enough to make me start killing chickens.

Some folks may say I am making light of a very serious situation, but I retort that there doesn't seem to be any other path to take. There's no vaccine. There's not enough cure. There's only the prospect of the Army guarding your door or the finger of death pointed right at you.

I can only say that, at my age, I have faced the prospect of death many times, but I never thought it would be caused by a chicken. Perhaps this is retribution for devouring so many of them..."Chicken Noodle Soup? Ha! How do you like this little bug? So there!" Or perhaps we have gone through and pretty much conquered so many diseases that new ones spring up just to keep us on our toes.

Whatever the reason, it is certainly filling in those blank spaces in television reporting. We may be getting the full scoop on Bird Flu except, of course, just who will get those limited doses of the antibiotic that is known to cure it. I feel sure those doses will not go to Shelters or Community Centers or FEMA CITY. Those doses are probably stored in that secret Cheney hiding place no one has been able to find and is waiting for the need to arise.