CPS:IMAGE ORDER="1">What action should be taken to prevent the spread of the bird flu virus?
This is the third page of your comments.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:
Countries should ensure information is shared in a timely and honest manner and do the most that can be done to prepare for a pandemic. However individuals should do their best to understand that these phenomena are natural and cyclical and one should not be concerned in daily life. If it wasn't this it would be something else. Besides which, you might be hit by a bus while you are worrying...
Justin Poole, New Zealand
Well I think that these things should not be happening anymore with all the money and help being put into research, where is it all going or to whom?
It is a threat but with this one, I think the media and ministry officials in the country affected have exaggerated it.
David Lulasa, Nairobi, Kenya
I think that the bird flu tablets and the vaccine when it comes out should be given to members of the public who have a serious chest problem like asthma. Just like the flu jab that we have now
Caitriona Graham, Belfast, N. Ireland
I'm no more worried about bird flu than I am about any other virus. Like someone has said before me, the media blow things all out of proportion, like they do with everything else!!!
Mike Neill, Hull
If bird flu can move between species, and we might catch it, so therefore it makes sense to kills lots of birds with the disease ... does it not also follow that the disease might already have moved into any number of other species? Why don't we play safe and just kill everything for miles around, just in case (oh, and stop the air moving, too) ... Surely vaccination is a good answer? Didn't we at least learn that from foot and mouth?
JC, Hants, UK
Why not bring back the old law of a fine for anyone spitting! It wouldn't stop the virus, but it would help stop it's spread.
Sharon Watson, London
The question of whether or not bird flu is a serious threat can only be answered by those who know viruses and the like. Who are we, Joe Public to answer such a question? If experts say it is dangerous, then who am I to argue?
Liam Donaldson should be ashamed of his blatant and unwarranted scare-mongering. So far 60 people have died worldwide of avian flu and he now says "50,000 could die" in the UK alone. Could that be because, as usual, our government will be woefully unprepared if the flu mutates to pass between humans? Their performance with BSE provides very little confidence. Donaldson should resign!
John, Haslemere, Surrey
I feel like a "sitting Duck", at the moment, not knowing if, how, or when this pandemic will strike! I feel very angry with the Government in their slow action in buying the vaccine, and more angry that they have only purchased such a small amount! What are the rest of us supposed to do? I think the Government should help the public with the cost of purchasing this drug privately! It's the very least it can do!
Shirley Singh, West Sussex
It's going to be worse than AIDS and any such pandemic nightmares of the past. We should quarantine each and every farm and also have social participation in checking the flu in domesticated birds as well.
Mohammed Zawid Naseem, Male', Republic of Maldives
After this doomsday madness suspiciously fuelled by our Governments has gone away, I will be very curious to see what other important issues have been swept under the carpet meanwhile.
Andreas Oikonomou, Athens, Greece
Shouldn't the flu jab be offered to everyone considering after all that it will be contracted most when passed from human to human? Surely funding this would be a small price for the government to pay don't you think?
Why is it so difficult for people to see that bird flu is becoming a threat to public health and why can't we all take appropriate measures for prevention? Even if it's not prevalent in some parts of the world, why take a risk?
Yureeda Qazi, Karachi, Pakistan
It's sad to see that now that there is a chance of the bird flu virus affecting the UK; suddenly our experts are touring the world "investigating". Didn't it seem as urgent when it was just foreigners who were dying?
Phil Smith, Wakefield, UK
I don't think we should bury our heads in the sand. Bird flu is a real and dangerous threat to our well-being and way of life and I am grateful that I can find out to some extent what the government is doing to try to combat it. However, it is very scary and I wish the media would hold back a little from predicting how terrible it will be. There is nothing I myself can do about it so I don't see how being told every five minutes about the predicted death toll is helpful.
Susan Dennise, Coventry
The bird flu is indeed close, and is clearly dangerous, but it is the people working in the poultry sector which are most at risk. You develop an infection from live animals, and as it is not contagious from man to man, it's about as dangerous as the mad cow disease. T
Robert, Paris, France
I'm struck with a conflict in attitude within myself, on one hand I say that there is no point worrying about it, that we should concentrate on life now, and be confident that the medical world is trying their best to protect us. On the other hand though, I have read on the governments own website that the predicted death rate in the UK can be as high as 25%. I have 5 people in my immediate family that would mean at least one of them would probably die if a pandemic hit. I then ask myself, what balance needs to be struck between avoiding panic, and preparing ourselves?
Chris, Cardiff, UK
Well we damn well deserve it, the way we've plundered and exploited our environment without thought for the consequences.
Well, yes I am worried about the deadly bird flu. I am worried because I haven't heard any deliberate cooperation among African countries to thwart bird flu. I am impressed with the preventive measures and preparedness with which the EU is taking in the event that the virus struck Europe. I only wish Africa, and my country Zambia could be serious about this issue. At the moment, Levy's leadership is treating the bird flu pandemic as a "problem out there". This casualness in dealing with deadly viruses such as this one is indeed worrying.
Horward Muyuni, Lusaka, Zambia
Too much hype, as it says in your Q&A there is only one case passed between humans, are we going to cull/slaughter every bird in the country to attempt to stop this ?
M Smith, Burton, Staffs England
The rest of the world is bracing for a global pandemic - but it seems that the UK government has done little to acknowledge this so far or take it seriously. They continue to bicker over leadership issues within parties. One item on this website suggested that to contain the spread, whole governments needed to work together - however if our own government can't put aside their differences during this time and focus their energies on matters at hand, then what hope is there for this? The UK government need to reassure the UK that they are taking the threat seriously and that measures are being put into place to reduce the risk of infection amongst it's populace.
Sam, Nottingham, UK
I do wonder at the financial outlay being thrown at something that has not yet crossed into our species. Maybe more lives would be saved in using the same money to put in road safety, or educate against smoking. It's all just popularist worry mongering about a one off event for political clout or to sell newspapers, while the things that kill the large majority of the population go on unheeded because they are commonplace.
Steve Hicks, France
The CMO predicted an overall death total from a bird flu pandemic of 50,000. To put it in as simple terms as possible, this is roughly 0.1% or 1 in 1000 of the UK population. As a healthy white male (mid twenties) in Western Europe I have exactly the same statistical probability of death by any means as by bird flu, within the next year. Worried by Bird Flu? I think not. At least no more than I am that my car is going to overturn on the M60 at rush-hour.
We should all be worried about bird flu, if only because it will have an effect on farming. But we shouldn't let worry turn to fear. Sir Liam Donaldson was in my view quite irresponsible in his choice of words that the flu pandemic will kill 50,000 in the UK. As yet there is no human variant only a possibility of one. We don't need scare stories, we need sensible and comprehensive preparations.
Alex T, London
Where did the idea that it is a good thing to soldier on when suffering from cold and flu viruses come from? There are plenty of drugs around which suppress fevers and aches and allow people to stay at work, even while they are highly infectious. Since experts are convinced the avian flu virus will eventually mutate into a new variety which will be passed between humans and cause a pandemic, the most sensible thing anyone showing symptoms of flu can do is keep out of contact with other people. People shouldn't go running to the doctor and cough and splutter over everyone in the waiting room, but should stay at home in bed for a few days and recover slowly without pumping themselves full of drugs. The fewer people there are about with human flu, the less chance there is for the avian flu to combine with the human version.
As far as the essential workers list is concerned, where are the teachers? My partner is a lecturer and she invariably contracts bugs of all kinds at the beginning of the new school year. Every September/October she is introduced to hundreds of new students many of whom have just returned from summer holidays or a year out. She is right in the firing line as far as any new virus is concerned.
My biggest concern surrounding an outbreak is the likely level of panic that will follow. I was surprised by how quickly civilisation broke down in New Orleans after a disaster - imagine an on going crisis with high levels of uncertainty.
Sov, Brighton, UK
Hens, ducks, house geese are kept free, outside, all over the country. There is no restriction for keeping the house birds inside. We need tons of luck to keep the virus away from us. In the villages, there are people with no TV, no newspapers, they do not keep in touch with the news. They just leave the hens and chicken outside. Thousands of migratory birds are due in the coming days. Why are we unprepared, why is this outbreak a surprise? The Russian government reported bird flu in Siberia months ago! Thousands of birds are coming these days from Siberia to Romania and other countries. Yes, we should be very worried.
Monica, Brasov, Romania
I grew up during the cold war and lived with the threat of instant death over my head. During my 20s and 30s, AIDS was going to kill me ... Then just a few years ago SARS was going to kill me ... and now the flu is going to finish me off. I've tuned out. I've spent over 40 years being told by one media element or another that my number might just as well be up. I've got 3 young kids to bring up. I've no time for this paranoia anymore. Let's not go and send our children to go out and play on a poultry farm, but let's just get on with our lives, because as we keep getting told, we may not be around tomorrow.
Neil Gibson, Freising Germany
OK so the consensus is split between being fearful or sceptical of the scale of a potential pandemic. Surely the best thing is to be prepared for the worst and thankful if things are contained. However, I would like to know who has decided that health workers are the only essentials to public life. What about the police required for law and order and the fire brigade and emergency services who are so necessary to daily life. Not to mention the farmers to bring produce to the shops and the people to stock the shelves... seems like the only people not essential to maintain society are those employed in the media and arts.
F Robertson, Fife Scotland
I'm afraid of the virus, but I'm more afraid to poverty and corruption. Living in an underdeveloped country, I've seen what corruption and poverty can do. With some money, any bird-trader can import/export healthy or ill birds, and I'm afraid it is the same in Thailand, Vietnam, Turkey... besides, poorer countries won't be able to afford the needed medicines. Yes, this is really scary.
Ricardo E, Mexico city
Me and my family keep three chickens as family pets. This is our main worry. I think one of the main reasons for the disease is that many of the chickens, turkeys and ducks that are factory farmed are fed a huge cocktail of antibiotics and hormones, so the virus has become immune to almost anything and everything. As a result, it's become a threat to humans, as well as birds. My main fear is still for my chickens though!
Emily, Bristol, England
I think it is a matter of great concern to every country in Asia. Educating city dwellers to leave the dead birds alone is the most important issue. The government should strongly encourage people to take a bird-flu vaccine.
Daniel, Hong Kong
I work in the vaccine industry - clearly the risk of a pandemic is very worrying. The government really needs to start educating people about the real causes and effects before ignorance begins to panic people, ie avoiding eating chicken etc. Furthermore, we need investment in global vaccines as bacterial and viral disease is what kills millions of people and are the biggest threat to an individual's existence.
Dr. Lee Smith, Wokingham, UK
We hear a lot about the battery farming of chickens - isn't this a consequence of humans guilty of Battery farming themselves? The world population grows by 75 million every year, more and more of them packed into cities and intensively used land areas. We need intensive agriculture with all its attendant problems to feed all these mouths. Until we start to control our own population then it is inevitable we will overstress the environment and giving diseases like this a better chance to flourish will be just one of the consequences
John Galpin, Cookham
Living where we live, in Upper Silesia (major industrial region) in Poland we already have enough bronchial and flu problems every year. It's really hard to imagine how could the epidemic look like. I'm very much afraid, but I don't have the slightest idea what should be done to prevent us from the bird flu. I hope they know what they are doing!
Jerzy Nowak, Bytom Poland
Why has this government not taken the same action as France with such a high number of visitors from Asia coming through London airports and on to a confined, poorly ventilated tube system.
50,000 people die every single day in developing countries from preventable diseases. Even if the virus mutates, its predicted mortality rate is nothing compared to third-world deaths, or indeed drugs, tobacco, alcohol, cancer or car crashes. Paranoia isn't going to help anyone, and if everyone had better hygiene it would probably prevent the spread even more.
Courtney Williams, Lincoln, Lincolnshire
I have just caught in part a report on the recent bird flu outbreak. I can appreciate how serious this situation is but can not put into words the utter rage I felt at witnessing live birds been thrown into wheelie bins! How can this utter disrespect for life be allowed?
John Williams, Cheshire
Yes, I am concerned. I wonder whether the virus would have mutated to this extent had the WHO been granted thorough access to affected nations, earlier.
Michael Crouch, Norwich, UK
Living in Asia has me very concerned about the bird flu spreading through human contact. With jet travel anyone could spread it throughout the world. I don't think there are adequate vaccinations for a world wide pandemic. The scientific community should cooperate and diligently work together to produce a vaccine for birds perhaps even putting it in their food.
Joyce Goranson, Tokyo, Japan
Has anyone looked at the threat posed by pheasant shoots in the present avian flu scare? Pheasants are fed intensively in the open and are joined by most other bird species, creating an ideal environment for the spread of any avian disease. Migratory birds such as geese, woodcock etc cross and re-cross the areas where the pheasants roam. On shooting estates, where overstocking with pheasants happens, the birds travel to neighbouring farms thus further spreading any diseases. The pheasant shooting season does not really start before November although the birds have been released so that the may fatten up for some weeks now. The only answer in my view is for shoots to start immediately even if the birds are not in fat condition. Also feeding outside should be stopped.
Mike Edmonds, Bishop Auckland England
I live in Singapore, Avian flu is a real threat, mainly if the virus mutates into a human to human form. This is more likely in countries where hygiene, health care and proactive measures are less accountable. The recent outbreak in Indonesia is not worrying in itself, but there reaction to it is. Recently, they uncovered fraud in vaccines and are having to test all stocks. Companies in Asia and Governments are taking this seriously, if H5N1 mutates (other viruses also can) a global pandemic is likely.
Being asthmatic, I had my flu-jabs recently and I spoke to the nurse about the bird flu. We've all heard of the UK's plans for bird flu, but nobody seems to have told the ground troops. So it seems that the UK is as unprepared now as we were for foot and mouth recently? Just look how successful we were in handling that epidemic.
Roger, Cambridge, England
Now being sandwiched between Romania and Turkey, yes I am worried about the spread of this virus. I really am considering going vegetarian now, seems you really can't trust eating other animals.
Jim Reynolds, Sofia, Bulgaria
I live in France, just one hour from the English Channel. Despite directives to stop hunts to avert the spread in Rumania, 'La Chasse' is out in force here this Sunday morning. France has a massive poultry industry and I surprised that this simple measure has not already been enforced to limit the spread.
Linda, Brittany, France
The drug companies must be laughing there way to the bank, making millions of vaccines for something that may never be. How frightened we are of our existence. How comfortable we are of life. Ask people in Iraq or Pakistan how they are worried about bird flu.
George H, Edegem, Belgium
I understand that a major cause of mortality from flu is not from the virus itself but from bacterial complications, like pneumonia. Since we can't produce a vaccine against a virus that doesn't exist yet, and since tamiflu is only partly effective at best, would it be useful to vaccinate against these secondary infections? Do we also have to stockpile antibiotics to treat them? Also, if hospitals are going to be overwhelmed, shouldn't GPs be equipped to provide emergency treatments for pneumonia etc at home?
Kay, Brussels, Belgium
Is it really as big a threat to humans as the media portrays it to be? Is the mass culling of birds really justified? Haven't we seen similar viruses develop and disappear in the past?
Feroz Khan, Dubai, U.A.E
To the respondent who wrote: "Is the mass culling of birds really justified? Haven't we seen similar viruses develop and disappear in the past?" Yes we have seen similar viruses in the past, but you only need one to develop and not disappear and we're in trouble. If a million new virus strains are created and disappear, and the million and first is the one that infects humans then that new strain will be the one that spreads throughout the world.
John Small, Faversham, UK
I need to have the 'flu jab as I have a birth heart defect. The worry about this strain of 'flu seems to have caused a stampede for the jab. I booked my appointment last month and will not receive my jab until the beginning of next month! This has never been the case in previous years.
William, Oxford, UK
Its was inevitable that these bugs would get so virulent in recent years, what with the intensive methods used to maximise profits - if you keep so many animals in such unhygienic conditions. Whether it will present a threat to humans is unclear at present, but the poultry market is suffering and there will be shortages of poultry products. Let's hope we learn some lessons from this and be a bit more considered in future strategies.
Ian Cully, Dublin, Ireland
The greatest risk from birds isn't from the flu but undercooking!
Anthony Mical, Preston UK
If we are trying to stop the spread of bird flu, why bring samples to the UK for testing?
Andrew, Letchworth, UK
How do humans die from avian flu? Is it just the elderly and infirm that are at risk, like with normal strains of flu?
Katie, Kendal, Cumbria
The government should make a statement of what it intends to do in order to prepare for any outbreak.
I love feeding birds and have a bird table and feeders in my garden. Should I be taking any special precautions.
Peggy, Tonbridge, Kent
My partner is a poultry farmer. As yet no guidelines have been issued by the company he grows free range birds for. I think that all poultry should be kept inside - this change should be implemented immediately. What is more important - free range status or people's lives and peace of mind for poultry workers and their families (and the consumer, too)?
Samantha Weeks, Woolsery, Nr Bideford, England
If this promotes better public hygiene in respect of coughing, sneezing, sighing, yawning and spitting whilst on the street, the train and the bus then hooray!
My hens are true "free-range" and cannot be permanently housed. They are only housed at night to protect them from the fox. To suggest "permanent" housing is to display a total lack of understanding of the methods of small scale free range egg production.
Richard, Warwickshire, England
Cutting costs by using overseas production in countries without the same standards of health, hygiene and food production regulations really has come home to roost!! Corporates have a responsibility at a global level and should be made accountable by regulation at the point of production and at the point of import. I've heard that some of these facilities are huge - it's not rural self sufficiency it's feeding the West cheaply.
Desmond, MA, USA
For those that think this is "British" hysteria, you need to wake up and realise that this is well and truly an issue being taken very seriously worldwide. Forget the stupid tabloid stories of the past. This is for real, as was Spanish flu. Number one piece of advice? Wash your hands regularly. A simple but highly effective weapon against the main path of contagion - hand contact.
Steve, Ferney Voltaire, France
If the worry is that the H5N1 virus could mutate if a person with flu catches, it why not increase the production of the annual flu vaccine and vaccinate as many people as possible?
The Government should hold a conference to discuss the implications and suggest new technology solutions.
David Elliott, West Ella, Hull, UK
Although I do not consider myself in a high risk group, I was recently offered a flu jab courtesy of my company. Here in Luxembourg, there are many companies offering the flu vaccination to their employees, a sensible approach. I think the UK is playing down this pandemic because it doesn't want to spend money on extra vaccinations. It should take a look at what other neighbouring EU countries are doing.
Yvonne Malone, Thionville (France) but working in Luxembourg
Living in London, the biggest risk of catching the virus from birds is from pigeons. Is the government really going to leave it until it's too late before it enforces a cull of these birds?
John Howe, London, UK
I've protected my family already and have a supply of Tamiflu tablets in the fridge. No use depending on the government, these days you look after your own. Log on to internet, they are widely available.
Linda, Kettering, Northants