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Sick Irony

This year's SARS is Avian Flu. Last year, many JETs were unable to travel to Southeast Asia, and even Australia because everyone's Board Of Education was scared to death. I was barely able to slip out (turned off my cell phone because Joe warned me that his BOE had forced him and Jason to cancel their trip to Japan) with Justin and Nam to Thailand. Once there, I didn't once think about SARS, except when other people mentioned that the Secratary of Health (or some important Thai Guy in charge of the wellness of the Thai people) was offering something like 10 grand to the families of any person who died because they caught SARS in Thailand. Supposedly, really poor people were trying to get infected and come into Thailand to claim the reward...

Imagine my surprise right now. I just walked in, and on the front page of the Daily Yomiuri reads: "Avian flu hits bantams in Oita Pref." with a huge map with an X on it about 30 minutes drive from my house. I was just thinking at lunch "Hmmmm... Ubuyama has a lot of chickens, but Avian flu would never reach this far from Yamaguchi (which is located on the southern-most tip of the main island of Honshu, just North of Kyushu). Its too bad that some schools have made the teachers take over caring for the chickens, and that some have even killed all of theirs in order to be on the safe side. Ah, I better eat faster, it looks like Miki-chan is catching up to me...". And so, we will see how this affects Ubuyama. Luckily I don't live next to the chicken farm like my supervisor.

Comments (5)

Scuba Steve:

I hate to tell you this, but if Avian flu can move from China to Japan...well, I wouldn't eat too much chicken. Go for the cow brains. At least mad cow doesn't hit you for a couple of years or so. I wonder how Darwin would explain that one.


Totally different mechanisms:
Avian flu is caused by a virus.
Mad Cow Disease (or Bovine Spongeform Encephalitis) is caused by crystaline proteins called "prions" that cause the brain to turn into something not unlike swiss cheese.

The point of this post is that I was shocked to see how close the Avian Flu is to me. I was thinking of it like last year's SARS scare. SARS was always "way over there" and all of Japan over-reacted, but today I found out that the Avian Flu is right next door. However, I am not the least bit worried since I don't take care of chickens (close contact with chickens is how people are infected). You can most likely eat chicken meat that has been infected with the AF and be fine (as the heat from cooking would kill it), but with BSE, this isn't the case. You can make charcoal burgers and the prions might still be intact.


Okay, talk about weird coincidences. I just cut out today's LA Times headliner: "Latching On to a Horror; Scientists fear a pandemic if the deadly avian flu virus, which hooks into victims' cells, mutates and spreads between humans." The virus, H5N1, has now spread throughout Asia. Although innocuous in wild waterfowl(which spreads it around)it is so unfamiliar to human immune systems as to worry scientists who are busy trying to keep up with new cases of "chicken ebola". Keep yourself healthy, strong and do stay away from all chickens, ducks and quail...I'm sending you this long article in today's mail.


Mom, bring Adam a case of veggieburgers to tide him over until he moves out of the sticks. He'll be tired of tofu and celery sticks by then for sure.

Scuba Steve:

Re: Avian Flu.

Just a quick point of correction. I know the difference between the flu "virus" and Mad Cow "disease." I was actually referring to your "Teacher Bio" that you have posted and sent me to on the last e-mail. "Has eaten disguisting foods...such as cow brains in Mexico."

From my understanding, the "Avian flu," was first discovered in China, and I think there was also an epidemic in Sweden or some oddball place like that in the early 1900s. Anyhow, like any and all flu strains, they seem to migrate at scary rates. Supposedly there have been a significant amounts of deaths (1990s) "related" to Avian flu in humans. How much precaution to take, I don't know, but I still wouldn't touch any chicken for awhile (pet or lunch).

That is NOT a dare btw.

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