In case of killer out­break, what wou

The New Zealand Herald - - News -

Robert Web­ster is get­ting about this year.

He will spend part of this year trav­el­ling to con­fer­ences around the world, some timed to co­in­cide with 1918 — the centenary of the Span­ish flu epi­demic — and to com­mem­o­ra­tions. He’ll also check in on a re­search project in Bangladesh watch­ing what hap­pens with the viruses in the big live poul­try mar­kets.

“Live poul­try mar­kets re­ally in­trigue me,” he con­fesses. “When we shut down the poul­try mar­kets in Hong Kong and they did the same thing in Shang­hai, with the sec­ond bird flu, the spread to hu­mans stopped. We’re watch­ing what’s hap­pen­ing in prob­a­bly the most densely pop­u­lated coun­try in the world and the mar­kets in Bangladesh are ab­so­lutely loaded with H5N1.

“But, on the other hand, the H5N1 virus is not trans­mit­ting to hu­mans and the im­pres­sion we have is that the virus is get­ting wimpier and wimpier and maybe we shouldn’t worry so much but, you know, na­ture just has to change, to shuf­fle the right hand as it were.”

While the num­ber of live poul­try mar­kets has greatly re­duced in re­cent years in Hong Kong, Web­ster un­der­stands their ap­peal.

“My wife is an ex­cel­lent cook but Amer­i­can chicken tastes of al­most noth­ing,” he says.

“I have to agree with the el­derly peo­ple in Hong Kong who say that live poul­try tastes bet­ter. So I still eat chicken but it’s not my favourite food by any means. I’d much rather eat duck and that’s even worse be­cause that’s where the real prob­lem lies. Cook­ing kills it; it doesn’t take much to kill flu.”

Which is prob­a­bly just as

In­fluenza 100 — Com­mem­o­rat­ing the 1918 Flu Pan­demic:

Why do we still need to know about the 1918 pan­demic? The sto­ries be­hind the names; who were the vic­tims? Lived ex­pe­ri­ences — re­mem­ber­ing 1918-1920

The Span­ish Lady and the Armed Forces

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