Preparing for the worst-case scenario

Experts have reassured us that, for the time being at least, there has been no evidence of the fatal strain of bird flu being passed from human to human – a mutation that would inevitably lead to the uncontrollable spread of the virus and the acute risk of a pandemic. Despite the scaremongering being undertaken by some and the hair-raising programs being aired on certain television channels, there appears to be a relatively balanced reaction to the scare on the part of the public. Although there has been a drop in the consumption of chicken and eggs – despite scientists’ assurances that these products pose absolutely no risk if properly cooked – this cannot be construed as evidence of widespread panic. Central and regional government officials are keeping us briefed on all the measures being implemented to avert possible contagion – including inspections at Athens airport, a ban on the import of poultry and its byproducts from countries known to have been affected by the virus, the disinfection of vehicles arriving from Turkey and the immediate referral of all cases of suspect birds to the state veterinary service. All this is being done in order to reduce our chances of importing bird flu. After all, the virus is spreading worryingly in neighboring Turkey, not just in remote Anatolia but in regions closer to our border. So, without wanting to raise alarms, there is a very good reason to believe that the virus could, at some point, cross into our country. Of course, the conditions in which poultry are bred in our country are undoubtedly better than in Turkey, but this is no justification for complacency. All we can do is be fully prepared to tackle the problem if it arises.

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