Tuesday, October 18, 2005

"Don't panic"

The mixed messages from the EU over bird flu is breathtaking (pardon the expression). Headlines:

Associated Press: EU foreign ministers call spread of bird flu a 'global threat'

TimesOnline: Don't panic over bird flu, say EU ministers

Reuters: Bird flu doesn't increase risk of human pandemic-EU

The EU has a big problem on its hands and it can't make up its mind how to spin it. Apparently just being factual about the situation isn't one of the options. So we get crap like this:
The presence of bird flu in southeastern Europe does not increase the risk of a human influenza pandemic, the European Union's health chief said on Tuesday.

European Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said after briefing EU foreign ministers at an emergency meeting that Brussels did not yet know what strain of bird flu had been detected on the Greek island of Chios.

The virulent H5N1 strain of the virus, which has killed more than 60 people in Asia since 2003, was found last week in Turkey and Romania.

"The fact we have avian flu in Europe does not affect the possibility of a human influenza pandemic," Kyprianou told a news conference. (Reuters)
Really? Oh, good. I kinda thought that the more infected animals and the more widespread the virus, that would also, kinda, like, you know, increase the risk a little? (the teenage diction used to approximate the level of thought, here).

Another (AP):
EU foreign ministers on Tuesday declared the spread of bird flu from Asia into Europe a "global threat" requiring broad international co-operation to contain.

The ministers were to issue a statement at a special meeting, saying they recognize bird flu poses a serious, global health threat if it shifts from birds to humans and one "that requires a co-ordinated international reaction."

The foreign minister were holding emergency talks Tuesday on the widening bird flu scare as Greece banned the export of live birds and poultry meat from the area where the EU's first bird flu case was detected a day earlier.
No threat to me, right, but a global threat requiring coordinated international response? What does this mean? It's a threat to the globe but not anyone on it?

Then this:
European leaders urged citizens not to be panicked by bird flu today as Greece banned the export of live birds and poultry meat from its islands in the eastern Aegean after the discovery of the EU’s first case of the virus.

Foreign ministers from the 25 EU member states gathered in Luxembourg for emergency talks on the threat, chaired by Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary. (TimesOnline)
Don't these guys know anything? I don't know about you, but the one thing that makes me want to panic is when the leaders of 25 countries meet in emergency session and tell me not to panic.