Tuesday, January 31, 2006


This could really make things worse in Iraq

From the AP/CNN, Bird flu adds fresh woe for Iraq:
RANIYA, Iraq (AP) -- Battered by rampant violence and political instability, a new threat in Iraq has been confirmed -- the first case of the deadly bird flu virus in the Middle East.

A 15-year-old Kurdish girl who died this month had the deadly H5N1 strain, Iraq and U.N. health officials said.

The discovery has prompted a large-scale slaughter of domestic birds in the northern area where the teen died as the World Health Organization formed an emergency team to try to contain the disease's spread.

"We regretfully announce that the first case of bird flu has appeared in Iraq," Iraqi Health Minister Abdel Mutalib Mohammed told reporters Monday.
Mr Mohammed sounds kinda resigned to this. In a country where 6 hours of no electricity for every one hour of electricity is common, it is easy to imagine hoping to have the proper resources seeming a pipedream. Is there enough food and a dependable distribution network to help aleviate the lack of "domestic birds in the northern area." People got to eat and it is winter. I sure hope the stories I hear about the Kurdish region being more stable and less damaged are true. The article states "government institutions are most effective in the Kurdish-run area."

It will be a sad amendum to the our presence in Iraq if it creates the path of infection for this hemisphere? But I fear this may happen. The well-established business-as-usual model has already begun to take a hold of this new problem.
Khudur, the policeman conducting the cull in Sarkathan, complained that his team was also not properly equipped for the slaughter.

"We lack plastic boots, masks and gloves. If we tear the gloves on our hands, there are none to replace them," he said.

"The problem comes down to funding more than anything else," Rod Kennard, who manages the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization's assistance program for Iraq, said from neighboring Jordan.

"If they have enough money in order to pay people off so that people will not be reluctant to cull their birds, it's less of an issue."
While the death of the girl's uncle and two recent admits to a hospital still need to be reviewed, Dr. William Schaffner, a bird flu expert at Vanderbilt University, "did not find the situation alarming." He added
"it indicates this is an infection now that is well-embedded in the bird population, probably poultry and the wild bird population,"
He is likely assuming the response in Iraq will be as thorough as Turkey is attempting to do. Turkey has "culled 1.6 million fowl so far." (The Kurds are expecting to kill 1000s.) I hope this doesn't get added to the list of of problems that started small and but for lack of proper attention and effort grew and grew. Because judging from Katrina, the folks in charge here don't seem to have their shit together enough these days to handle anymore big problems. Even the small ones seem beyond them.

[Update] Christiane Amanpour discussing Iraq in general with Larry King:
I mean, by an[y] indicator Iraq is a black hole.
Which means, according to a new poll that is coming out today, that most of the Iraqi people are now losing hope that the promised reconstruction is going to happen and that the quality of their lives is going to increase. This is a big drama because hope is the only thing they have in the middle of this spiralling security disaster. And by any indication whether you take the number of journalists killed or wounded, whether you take the number of American soldiers killed or wounded, whether you take the number of Iraqi soldiers killed and wounded, contractors, people working there, it just gets worse and worse.

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