Friday, October 21, 2005

Kill all Domesticated & Wild Birds?

This is ominous. Asian countries have experienced this. Until recently it was Vietnam, Laos and Indonesia. Now, Thailand just has another death. Much worse, the dead man's son has also been infected which raises the very frightening question of whether the infection had been from man to man, rather than from birds.

And then over in Europe it started with Turkey, Romania, Russia. The Russians and Turks have culled thousands of birds.

In Africa and the Middle-East they are worried sick. Read here, here, here, here, and here.

Yes, avian flu has spread, literally on the wings of birds across the world.

Now in the face of such pandemic threats I hear but only deafening silence and a total absence of proposal to eliminate anything fowl-ish in Malaysia, in the same manner that some previous proposals called for the total ban and elimination of pigs because of the porcine potential for the carriage of deadly virus.

OK, based on those very arguments of eliminating the most dangerous virus-carrying creature plus the real fact that avian flu is now undeniably an imminent humongous threat, if we are truly serious about avoiding the greatest probability (no longer just a 'possibility' as the chances have monumentally increased in the last 6 months) of pandemic avian flu, we should eliminate all living fowls from the face of Malaysia – chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, quails, pet birds, wild birds (both caged or overflying specimens), and anything associated with birds like cats - yes sir, especially cats.

OK guys, I was just being cheeky and not really proposing the above avian or feline genocide. The better solution for Malaysia would be to ensure:

(1) fowl farms are kept in strict hygienic conditions and regularly and diligently inspected;

(2) satisfactory compensation schemes in event of enforced culling - to de-motivate people from smuggling their fowl assets across quarantined zones, as had happened during the nipah-pig crisis. Any resistance to culling would render the programme ineffective.

As an example, in this area of public management and thus government responsibility, our neighbour Indonesia has admitted on several occasions to its inability to compensate its bird rearers for culling, which added to the insidious spread of avian flu hazard;

(3) monitoring and reporting system, especially of migatory birds - do more random tests of the avian visitors;

(4) quarantine strategy, plans and programmes that are transparent, accountable and objective.

Impose ultra strict quarantine control at the borders with our two most potentially 'dangerous' neighbours, Thailand and Indonesia where the avian flu has emerged currently with devastating effect. Watch out especially for the illegal importation of fighting cocks and merpati pet birds from the north.

As an example of dangerous importation - Australian quarantine services have just seized 102 pigeons imported from Canada because those birds have been exposed to the bird flu virus and have tested positive to bird flu antibodies;

(5) public education and information system - no bullsh*t and hiding of the true status just to fool tourists;

(6) a plan for vaccination which hopefully needn’t be needed if all the above work;

(7) evacuation plans and procedures from high risk areas;

(8) publish all the policies, strategies, plans and budget for public comments.

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