March 14, 2006

File under: “The World Can Be a Dangerous Place”.

From Alabama:

A cow in Alabama has tested positive for mad cow disease, the Agriculture Department said Monday, confirming the third U.S. case of the brain-wasting ailment.

The cow did not enter the food supply for people or animals, officials said. The animal, unable to walk, was killed by a local veterinarian and buried on the farm.

Federal and state investigators are working to determine the cow’s age, where it was born and raised and locate its herdmates and offspring. Sparks said there are no suspect animals on the farm.

Here’s what I don’t understand: If no part of the animal entered the food chain for humans or animals, and there are no suspect animals on the farm, it’s obvious the various safety procedures put in place to protect the food supply worked as designed, correct? Therefore, I’m trying to figure out where the story is here. The industrial equivalent would be “a worker in a chemical processing plant today punctured a vat filled with (you name it), which can cause severe widespread respiratory problems if released into the air. The spill was cleaned up promptly, however, with no exposure to the surrounding populated area”.

This however, should be a cause for genuine concern, as bird flu continues it’s spread from Asia to Africa:

The rate of human infections from the H5N1 strain is increasing as birds carry the virus to more parts of Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Afghanistan yesterday became the 26th country to report an initial outbreak in birds, doubling the number of affected nations worldwide since H5N1 was first isolated in a goose in southern China almost a decade ago.

“Research suggests that currently circulating strains of H5N1 viruses are becoming more capable of causing disease in mammals than were earlier H5N1 viruses,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta said yesterday in a statement on its Web site.

And I don’t know about you, but this story doesn’t give me any sense of comfort:

Don’t count on a vaccine to protect against bird flu during the first six months of a pandemic. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said Monday it would take at least that long to produce a vaccine because the virus is changing and there’s no way to know which strain might become capable of human-to-human transmissions.

I still think the biggest impact of bird flu (outside, of course, bird populations), will be economic. If it ever arrives in the U.S. – something that I’m afraid is inevitable – the impact on the airline industry may well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

And who would have thought that the culling of goose poulations in Asia would be a cause for concern to – believe it or not – badminton afficianados:

Shortages of goose feathers in China and tightened manufacturing regulations are pushing up prices of shuttlecocks, the feathered projectiles hit over the net in badminton.

The H5N1 epidemic has added to long-term concerns about the supply chain of feathers because it has led to the culling or deaths of some 200 million birds since late 2003.

Even the most seemingly innocent forms of human recreation can be deadly these days – even kite flying, where a city in Pakistan has cancelled a festival due to deaths caused by killer kites:

It is one of Pakistan’s great parties – a joyous spring festival in the southern city of Lahore where partygoers crowd on to rooftops under a riotous sky filled with fluttering kites.

But this year the age-old celebration of Basant has been cancelled amid worries about killer kites, knife-sharp strings and ominous threats to prosecute teenage “terrorists”.

Punjabi officials announced the kite-flying ban, in effect ending this weekend’s festival, after seven recent kite-related deaths. Most victims had their throats cut by sharpened kite strings coated with ground glass or metal filings. The latest to die was a four-year-old boy who bled to death in his father’s arms last week after their motorcycle was entangled in a kite string.

“A healthy sport is being turned into a game of death,” said Punjab’s Chief Minister, Pervez Elahi, offering a reward for information about vendors who sell glass-covered string. Those responsible for kite-related deaths would be punished under Pakistan’s anti-terrorism laws, he said. By Friday, Lahore police had arrested 74 kite enthusiasts.

Geez, whatever happened to the old conventional model using a ball of twine and wooden stickframes? (Hat tip: The Corner at NRO)

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:04 | Comments Off on Mad Cows, Bird Flu, and Killer Kites
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