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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“We are the original recyclers,” boasted the rendering industry.3162 Converting billions of pounds of slaughterhouse waste into cheap protein for farm animal feed seemed like a good idea at the time, a profitable idea. The industry got away with it for more than a hundred years.3163 In the end, though, with the advent of mad cow disease, society realized that it wasn’t worth the costs to public health and the industrial practice was banned throughout much of the world. What may be cheaper for industry may be too expensive for humanity. It was the same story with DDT and the growth hormone DES that the poultry industry insisted on using for so many years despite the known cancer risk.

Society has determined that certain industries and practices may be too potentially damaging and has successfully scaled them back—nuclear power, clear-cutting, strip mining, to name a few. Intensive poultry production is a relatively new phenomenon of the past 50 years. In light of H5N1 and our increasing understanding of the role of poultry in pandemics, with enough political will the industrialization in the poultry sector can be scaled back as well.

Senator Frist has warned that H5N1 “poses an immense potential threat to American civilization.”3164 Tara O’Toole, director of the Center for Biosecurity of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, agrees. “What we are talking about is not just another health issue—it is a nation-busting issue,” she added.3165 This sentiment is expressed worldwide. “It will be the worst nightmare,” the President of Indonesia said in 2005. “This plague can be more dangerous than the tsunami which last year killed hundreds of thousands of people in a matter of minutes.”3166

To help people wrap their heads around what an H5N1 pandemic could be like, Osterholm suggests that people consider the South Asian tsunami, an event that far outshadowed the devastation of hurricane Katrina: “Duplicate it in every major urban center and rural community around the planet simultaneously, add in the paralyzing fear and panic of contagion, and we begin to get some sense of the potential of pandemic influenza.”3167 A tsunami in every city, every town, everywhere. People drowning in their own blood.

“An influenza pandemic of even moderate impact,” Osterholm wrote, “will result in the biggest single human disaster ever—far greater than AIDS, 9/11, all wars in the 20th century and the recent tsunami combined. It has the potential to redirect world history as the Black Death redirected European history in the 14th century.”3168