February 13, 2006

Avian Flu in Africa and European Union

Two articles in the NYT hailed the expansion of Avian Flu into new frontiers. First Africa as reports of Nigeria come in about the slaughter of 40,000 birds in an attempt to stop the spread of the disease. The reports that the flu has shown up in the EU for the first time, with cases in Greece and Italy. A couple of points that are relevant to the OBX.
It is being carried by migrating birds, so all countries on their flight paths are vulnerable.

We have lots of migrating birds and Eastern NC is home to a huge poultry industry. An appearance in local birds would be devastating to the local agricultural interests. Further an outbreak in humnas could have an impact on tourism in general.
Finally a nationwide or global pandemic could mean travel controls similar to the SARS incident. What impact with this have on foreign tourists and perhaps more importantly on the foreign students who now make up so much of the work force in the summer months. It seems a distant menace but one we need to be wary of it. A major outbreak could have direct local effects as well as the potential for worldwide disaster.

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