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Bird flu

I am not too afraid of bird flu, at least not in the current stage of the ‘outbreak’. The media are overreacting once again, it reminds me of what happened during SARS. The moment some humans get infected in Shanghai most foreigners will probably flee China again to ‘safer’ places. SARS was just a big blown-up media event, and I feel that is what happening to bird flu as well. As long as the virus does not mutate into a human-to-human virus I don’t really see what all the fuss is about. Apparently the longer the virus only stays in birds the smaller the chance it will mutate into a dangerous virus: the virus gets weaker over time when it spreads. The reason: sick birds don’t fly far and dead birds don’t fly at all, so only a weaker version of the virus will likely spread.

On the Oriental-List (a mailing list mainly about travel in China) an American lady mentioned today that she was going to travel to Beijing for the first time, but had to promise her family not to eat Beijing Duck because of the danger. What are these people thinking? At least another member took the time to remind her that the ducks are cooked (actually roasted) very well so that there is no danger at all to get infected. And even if there is any danger, this is still much smaller than getting hit by a taxi or bus when crossing a street in China.

But how does the average Chinese see this? David, my partner at China Bay, asked his driver this question. The answer: “The government says that bird flu is under control, so I don’t worry about anything.” An interesting observation that people still put full trust in what the government is saying. On the one hand maybe scary, but what if this would not be the case? If Chinese would overreact to bird flu like Europeans and Americans to SARS and anthrax the country would soon be in total chaos. I am glad to live in China!

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