Table of Contents:



I. Storm Gathering

1. 1918

2. Master of Metamorphosis

3. H5N1

4. Playing Chicken

5. Worse Than 1918?

6. When, Not If

II. When Animal Viruses Attack

1. The Third Age

2. Man Made

3. Livestock Revolution

4. Tracing the Flight Path

5. One Flu Over the Chicken's Nest

6. Coming Home to Roost

7. Guarding the Henhouse

III. Pandemic Preparedness

1. Cooping Up Bird Flu

2. Race Against Time

3. Tamiflu

IV. Surviving the Pandemic

1. Don't Wing It

2. Our Health in Our Hands

3. Be Prepared

V. Preventing Future Pandemics

1. Tinderbox

2. Reining in the Pale Horse


References 1-3,199

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Executive editor of Poultry magazine in a 2005 editorial

The poultry industry is starting to wake up to the pandemic threat, but seems more concerned about how the disease will affect business. Big Chicken in the United States looked forward to the “export market opportunities for U.S. chicken and turkey to replace lost poultry production” due to the global spread of H5N1,3155 but is worried about what bird flu might mean for poultry consumption in general. A recent article in Poultry International pointed out that “[p]reviously known and documented ‘flu pandemics…almost certainly originated in poultry. Because the connection was either not appreciated at the time and/or not widely publicized, there was little or no impact on public confidence in poultry products. The poultry industry,” concludes author Terry Mabbett, “is unlikely to get off so lucky next time around.”3156

The poultry industry acknowledges that public health implications could be serious, but have other concerns as well. USDA researchers have voiced fear that “[i]f this virus [H5N1] were to become established in the human population, it has the additional potential to cross back to chickens from humans and cause a severe influenza outbreak in poultry.”3157 The industry is concerned that if there’s a human H5N1 pandemic it could disseminate the virus over long distances and lead to “further infections of poultry.”3158

Some in the industry confess that the “emergence of zoonotic infections associated with poultry is a disquieting trend”3159 and internally acknowledge the role of intensive confinement. “Modern day poultry production is so highly concentrated that this disease can spread so rapidly,” one Maryland chicken farmer admitted. “We can’t ignore this any longer.” Ignorance may be blissfully more cost-effective, though, than change. One anonymous industry official of a major poultry producer was quoted acknowledging the basic principle. “It’s like if one person in a crowded room coughs, more people have a chance of getting infected,” the official said. “But the question is, can there be an equitable way of doing that without affecting business?”3160

The executive editor of Poultry magazine put the trade-off this way in a 2005 editorial: “The prospect of a virulent flu to which we have absolutely no resistance is frightening. However, to me, the threat is much greater to the poultry industry. I’m not as worried about the U.S. human population dying from bird flu as I am that there will be no chicken to eat.”3161