The Patch

February 6, 2007

Tuesday 6th February 2007.

Filed under: UK News — Claire @ 12:03 am

Bird Flu is here. Yes, the virus that’s been worrying all and sundry for over a year has finally made it’s mark on British poultry. And as sod’s law would have it, it’s birds from one of the UK’s most famous turkey purveyors that are infected. Bernard Matthews is no doubt looking back wistfully at the days when Jamie Oliver was their only problem.

It’s big news, obviously. In a world obsessed with health, a new threat is always going to be of interest, hence worried reports from the major news channels and newspapers, and indeed The Patch. Of course, we don’t scaremonger here. We only suggest you acquire your surgical masks before they run out, stock up on antiseptic spray and lock yourself in a cupboard for a few months.

A little joke, there. A human variant of bird flu is undoubtedly a scary prospect, and the operation to cleanse Bernard Matthews of it’s ungainly avian illness is probably the best way of doing things, really, but do we need to hear about it? 160,000 birds have been transported to Staffordshire from the Bernard Matthews plant in Suffolk and have er…humanely had their necks wrung. Staffordshire was obviously thrilled about the prospect of receiving such a delightful gift, with locals getting a bit antsy…For instance, I’ve just witnessed some old woman on ITV News getting rather angry about the fact that the birds have ended up on her doorstep, saying that Suffolk should keep their infections to themselves.

Bit selfish, no? It’s doubtful that this woman has any poultry of her own, and despite sounding like an old crow, she isn’t of the avian variety herself. She’s got nothing to worry about. As far as I can see, everything is being done to contain the virus and protect the public, it’s not as if a dead turkey has been posted through her letterbox with an note saying “Your problem now, lots of love, Suffolk xxx”. But then, in hysteria, the panic will no doubt seem warranted.

I’m not trivialising the issue, but we’ve had all this “OHNOES, Bird flu!!” business before. As early as October 2005, there were fears because a quarantined parrot died of the HN51 strain of bird flu, which, in case you’ve not been paying attention, is the one that can affect humans, and in early 2006, a swan in Fife, Scotland also tested positive. Cue mass panic. People started to think that a chicken curry could kill them, and everyone with a sniffle thought they were dying. Then there was the lull as we realised that the threat was pretty far away and we could have turkey for Christmas dinner without sprouting feathers and starting to cluck.

But it’s back, it’s bumping off our poor turkeys, and sure, people are getting a bit anxious. The people of Staffordshire aren’t the only ones worrying. Consumers are getting weary again, sales of chicken are down according to major supermarkets, despite reassurance from those in the know that the nasties can’t actually be transmitted through consumption. Russia has this morning announced a ban on imports of British poultry to their country, and various countries such as Japan are following suit. This means the farming industry has need to worry about where their next meal will come from when nobody wants to buy their meat, losing sleep over a crisis which could prove to be as big as the Foot and Mouth epidemic, which lead to bovine bonfires and many farms going out of business.

Hopefully, in a world where we can choose the eye colour of our children, we can somehow find a vaccine for HN51 before it starts to affect humans. Hopefully Bernard Matthews’ feathered friends won’t have died in vain, and the virus will be contained. Until then, we just have to get on with it, stop panicking, and have faith that everything possible is being done. Basically, we have to be a bit British about it!



  1. i bet the veggies are gloating now but also sad, mostly gloating though, bloody veggies

    Comment by andy — February 6, 2007 @ 2:41 pm | Reply

  2. …it’s February 😛

    Comment by alice86 — February 6, 2007 @ 10:03 pm | Reply

  3. LIES, Alice!

    Comment by Claire — February 9, 2007 @ 12:07 am | Reply

  4. Fix’d.

    Comment by freshlysqueezedcynic — February 12, 2007 @ 3:15 pm | Reply

  5. “bovine bonfires” is possibly the best phrase i’ve read in the patch yet. no, really, its great 😀

    Comment by Amie — February 12, 2007 @ 7:58 pm | Reply

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