Monday, February 12, 2007

UN New Centre on H5N1

I am always interested to look at how different newspapers will run the same story. If you look at some newspapers, they emphasised that 20% of the cats found around an infected area had H5N1 - but if you look at this article from the UN News Centre, you'll see the fact that 80% of the cats did NOT catch it was of more significance. More importantly, as an earlier scientist pointed out, these reports were never substantiated.

Note what the UN suggests - where H5N1 has been found in birds, cats should be separated from the birds and on commercial poultry premises, cats should be kept indoors. And of course, it advised against killing cats.

We know the knee jerk reaction during SARS where everyone started panicking about everything - taxis would not stop for doctors and nurses and cats of course were killed to improve hygiene. Let's hope that we'll keep a calmer head if the worst happens and we act rationally if H5N1 ever makes an appearance here (and in the meantime let's pray it doesn't).

As I was discussing with another volunteer, in a way cats are an easy scapegoat to make us feel as if we're doing something. Why? It is called avian flu for a reason - ie it comes from birds. It would be impossible (nor in any way am I suggesting we should) to kill all the birds because obviously they can fly and are more mobile. It would be impossible to stop bringing in meat (now the suspected reason why the UK has been hit by avian flu) because people are not going to stop eating their poultry, but we need to feel we are doing something. The worst part is that the cats may suffer because of it just as they did during SARS.

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Anonymous ck said...

Dawn, I fear that would be the case should the bird flu hit our shores. Look at how prominent the article on the UN report appeared in Saturday's Straits Times - page one of the Home section; there's even an outline of a cat accompanying the article. The first thing that comes to the minds of the uninformed or ignorant will be that cats CAN carry the avian flu virus.

12/2/07 9:34 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

ck - that's why it's important for all of us to keep as up to date on information as we can so we can correct misinformation as well.

12/2/07 9:54 AM  
Anonymous ej said...

Yes, believe in science and not in fear.

12/2/07 10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i was thinking the same thg when i read saturday's papers. the headline was worded in very biased and misleading way which was quite contrary to what the article itself said. not many readers wld have picked it up and s'poreans now now have the impression that cats carry the virus and are likely to spread it to other cats as well as humans.

there is no doubt in my mind that there will be mass culling of stray cats again, shld bird flu virus be found here. depressingly, we all know that it WILL one day come to our shores. it is only a matter of time.

12/2/07 11:31 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anonymous I do hope that we've learnt SOMETHING from the whole SARS situation. I also hope that because avian flu seems to hit countries that have more agricultural economies that we may be spared the brunt of it.

12/2/07 11:42 AM  
Anonymous veganmeow said...

The killing (the crowded and altogether terrible conditions of farmed birds meant for human consumption) has started it in the first place and now all they can think of to solve the problem is more killing of animals…

Why is it is still so difficult to stop eating meat, eggs and other animal products, when not only the animals’ lives but also millions of human lives are at stake?
Read: Bird Flu "A virus of our own hatching"

12/2/07 3:33 PM  
Blogger Profpig ^@^ said...

Dawn! Please write to the papers about the stats that was produced by UN favours the cats more! I hate to see an order given that even home cats have to be quarantined or culled!

12/2/07 11:04 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Profpig - they had the same stats, except they chose to emphasise, in the ST article at least, that 20% of cats might have bird flu. In contrast, the UN and other scientists chose to concentrate on the fact that 80% did NOT.

13/2/07 1:14 AM  
Blogger vegancat said...

Read this The Irony of Fear

This year the concern is bird flu, and more than 2 million doses of a hastily prepared vaccine will be discarded if the dread virus doesn't mutate to a form that can infect us. Since this mutation occurs once in 50 years, the current worry may well turn out to be overblown.

At a time in history when true scourges are quite rare, the population is controlled by fear. Rather than enjoy the safety that our technological advances have provided us, we feel uncertain. Respiratory masks and other paraphernalia meant to shield us actually spread panic more effectively than any terrorist agent by sending the message that something is in the offing. Our personal fear alerts are turned on all the time.

We feel the stress and become more prone to irritability, disagreement, worry, insomnia, anxiety and depression. We are more likely to experience chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness and headache. We become more prone to heart disease, cancer and stroke, our greatest killers.

Worry about the wrong things puts us at greater risk of the diseases that should be concerning us in the first place. ·

13/2/07 9:32 AM  

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