Anorak News | A Little Bird

A Little Bird

by | 24th, October 2005

‘FOR those of you not running about like headless chickens, squawking about the war with the birds, the good news is that the Sun has found an ally in the enemy camp.

‘Gis a cracker and I’ll tell you what you wanna know’

This bird is not given a name – we’ll call her agent Polly – and appears on the front page of the Sun. And she brings news: “Parrot: It WAS killer flu.”

And with that she’s gone, leaving behind a worried country, and the faint whiff of Brazil nuts. The parrot that died in quarantine had fallen victim of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu.

No wonder the Sun’s Katherine Bergen, writing in her get-up-and-weep “THAT MONDAY MORNING FEELING” column, says we’re “getting more and more nervous about the possible arrival of bird flu”.

And worried we should be. One dead parrot is a tragedy, thousands of parrots are a statistic. Such is the popularity of the birds among we pet-loving Britons that, as the Express says, the bird flu will bring the country to a halt. What with all the pet funerals and periods of mourning, no-one will be fit to work.

And it will get worse if we give into temptation. As your parrot lies dying in your arms, you must stay strong. “Kiss me, mummy,” he’ll say. And you must resist. Osculation with a bird is to be avoided less you catch the disease.

The Express says that any outbreak of human form of bird flu would lead to “mass panic, with millions refusing to leave their homes.”

Speaking on Jonathan’ Dimbleby’s politics programme over the weekend, Patricia Hewitt, the Health Secretary, said: “The scientists are saying to us that it is a matter of when, not if, a pandemic breaks out.”

And in the Mail (“BIRD FLU: IT IS THE KILLER STRAIN”), we hear Hewitt lay out her Government’s contingency plan. “If you’ve got pandemic flu, anyone’s who got any flu-like symptoms would be well advised to stay home and not spread it.”

But how do you know what kind of flu you’ve got? It might just be one those everyday flus that kill the elderly and earn the young days off school.

Until our parrot insider tells us more about the symptoms of this killer disease, we can only fear the worst.

Unless we listen to Professor Hugh Pennington, president of the Society for General Microbiology, who says there is no threat to humans. “The virus hasn’t yet mutated into the pandemic form which all the jumping up and down is about,” says he. One dead parrot has “no impact on public health”.

But the professor’s views are only as valid as his sources. And it might be that he got his news from the wrong little bird…’

Posted: 24th, October 2005 | In: Tabloids Comment | TrackBack | Permalink