Bird Flu

The other day a fellow asked me what I thought about the bird flu epidemic in the central states.  I had to admit that poultry had never been part of my vet practice and my main poultry experience has been with grilled chicken breasts. 

However, upon reflecting on the problem a couple of things came to mind.   First question:  “What is the genetic diversity level of the affected flocks".  When a genetically diverse population is exposed to a disease not all get sick or die and some survive to carry on the species. This is the same mechanism that allows bugs to become immune to the effects of insecticides and weeds to become resistant to glyphosate.   I’m guessing that in the current situation the genetic diversity is quite low and the morbidity is very high.  Obviously, the mortality is 100% as all sick and exposed birds are depopulated to avoid spread to other vulnerable flocks. 

I also wonder about the vaccines used on these birds. There’s a lot of controversy about vaccines these days and like the old saying - “there are three sides to that story; yours, mine and the truth”.  I don’t think I’m the only one who is very skeptical of scientists playing around with mutated live viruses in the laboratory.  I have read that the incidence of disease is higher is some human population groups that have been vaccinated for that specific disease than in the unvaccinated population. 

What could happen if a highly susceptible population was exposed to a rogue laboratory virus … it sure makes one wonder!