Bird Flu Takes Human Lives in Turkey

Jan 09, 2006
George Anderson

By George Anderson

At least five deaths in Turkey are thought to be tied directly to humans coming in contact with chickens infected with the bird or avian flu known in medical terms as the H5N1 virus.

Up to 23 people are undergoing tests in Istanbul to determine if they are infected. The cases in Turkey have raised concerns that the disease is moving westward to Europe from Asia.

Turkey’s Health Minister, Recep Akdag, spoke at a news conference. “The total number of cases in our country is 14 confirmed by laboratory tests, and out of those 14, three children have died,” he said.

The World Health Organization has confirmed four cases and two deaths tied to the disease in Turkey.

According to Reuters, the sale of chickens and eggs has been banned across all of Istanbul.

The governor of the city, Muammer Guler, told the news service two of the city’s districts are under quarantine and all poultry within them will be destroyed. 

Moderator’s Comment: How big a potential risk is the bird flu to the U.S. poultry business? Is the poultry industry ready for what many consider the
probability that the bird flu will eventually reach American shores?

George Anderson – Moderator

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5 Comments on "Bird Flu Takes Human Lives in Turkey"

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Bill Bishop
Bill Bishop
15 years 1 month ago

I could be wrong, but I think the real issue is whether or not the Bird Flu evolves into a pandemic of significant size. I’ve heard speculation about the possibility of repeating the experience of 1918.

If this occurs, the economic and human consequences will be of major proportion and negatively impact a lot more than the American poultry industry.

It seems to me that a key question for discussion is how well are we preparing for a major public health crisis and all the implications for food production, distribution, and retailing that will come along with it.

Kai Clarke
15 years 1 month ago

The American poultry industry is relying on the government to take the next steps, while other countries are allowing this virus to spread. Its containment is critical to the industry’s health and short-term success, however the required resources to stop it from entering the US are not being taken. Cleansing should be required for all travelers prior to boarding a plane. We have watched this disease spread, country by country over the last few years, and it is only a question of time before it goes from eastern Europe to the rest of Europe and then to the US. Haven’t we learned enough from mad cow disease to take the appropriate steps now?

Bernice Hurst
15 years 1 month ago

Seems to me as there’s a lack of education and understanding that is far more likely to cause damage than bird flu. So far, there has been no evidence that it can spread between humans and those humans who have died have caught it directly from the birds. Not many chickens fly from one country to another so international travel isn’t really an issue. Obviously other birds fly but as most of the US poultry industry is factory based, with little or no significant element of free-range, I think the likelihood of free range contamination is also pretty low.

What I have seen in the US and UK press about preparations (or lack thereof) in terms of flu vaccinations is certainly enough to frighten the horses, let alone the chickens. If the industry is making sensible preparations then it would be fair to let them say so. I’m sure there are any number of PR companies on standby ready to spread the good word.

Gene Hoffman
Gene Hoffman
15 years 1 month ago

If new cases of the bird flu occur in countries west of Turkey, concern will greatly intensify. International travel is a potential ally for spreading this flu. If it hits France, people in the western world will start being “chicken” — so sell your stock in chicken companies. If it hits New York, start liking fish, return to hamburgers and pray that the mad cow disease potential has been solved. At this moment, the American poultry industry doesn’t appear to have a protective firewall in place — at least not yet.

Mark Lilien
15 years 1 month ago

As far as the American public knows, the poultry industry is doing nothing. When bird flu spreads further, egg and poultry consumption will crash, regardless of any government action or inaction. Many illnesses spread through international travel, so how likely is it that quarantines will be effective? People can substitute other foods easily, so the industry will be decimated.


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