Here it is, just what we have been told to fear: Bird flu appears to have finally crossed the animal-human boundary. In Taiwan a woman suffering a lung infection has been treated with the Tamiflu jab and antibiotics, but it was only later when samples they took from her were tested it was found she had actually contracted H6N1 bird flu. The victim was known not to have come into contact with the chicken farming industry, so this raises concerns as to its transmission mechanism. Enter The Super Common Cold!
The most frightening aspect of this is the potential for viruses to cross the species borders (strictly speaking it crosses the borders at the Phylum level but ‘crossing the species divide’ sounds like a much better sound-bite) our overuse of antibiotics may well be one of the cause for this problem (so could battery farming – disgusting practice). Antibiotics are an ever-decreasing resource we have available to fight bacteria – not viruses. The number of people I hear saying they’re taking antibiotics to overcome their cold is ridiculous. I don’t blame the person; I blame their doctor and work presentee-ism that is so pervasive in western culture. Having a cold is seen as trivial but if you look at the research done on it, we can see that it reduces our competence to levels of drunkenness. You wouldn’t drive drunk, why would you drive with a cold?
From another point of view pharmaceutical companies encourage you to go to work even though you’re suffering and infectious. They develop these kick-ass ‘cures’ they advertise on the telly that help you work while your body is a petri dish of infection. Why do they do this? Because while at work in this condition you leave germs everywhere for everyone else to catch. On door handles, in the air when you sneeze, on your keyboard (I read somewhere that there is a more diverse culture living on your keyboard than in most major cities) – you are inadvertently signing up your colleagues to buying the ‘cure’ touted by the manufacturers. This same ‘man up’ mentality is pervasive in management – you should work through a cold – it’s only a cold after all. But what does the Common Cold cost us as a society? And why the hell is it so prevalent? I have found that working from home I am unlucky if I contract a cold once a year. You can’t gain immunity to the damn thing, so it’s not as if I need to interact with large numbers of sick people to build my resistance. As a result I am more productive day by day.
Having said all this, my book, The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle would not have the same impact if only a few people caught a cold. The fact that this apparently rather placid and familiar infection attacks some 90+% of the population simultaneously and at roughly the same time every year means that our complacency leaves us wide open to real mass infection potential.
Could the H6N1 bird flu really be the one that sees The Walking Dead come to life (so to speak)?
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