Robert G. Webster is one of the few bird flu experts confident enough to answer the key question: Will the avian flu switch from posing a terrible hazard to birds to becoming a real threat to humans?

If the virus does mutate, it does not necessarily mean it will be as deadly to people as it is to birds. But experts such as Webster say they must prepare for the worst.

“I personally believe it will happen and make personal preparations,” said Webster, who has stored a three-month supply of food and water at his home in case of an outbreak.

Frightening Warning
“Society just can’t accept the idea that 50 percent of the population could die. And I think we have to face that possibility,” Webster said. “I’m sorry if I’m making people a little frightened, but I feel it’s my role.”

Most scientists won’t put it that bluntly, but many acknowledge that Webster could be right about the flu becoming transmissible among humans, even though they believe the 50 percent figure could be too high.

Renowned Bird Flu Expert Warns: Be Prepared

Looks like it’s time some folk in white coats came to round up dear Robert, so he can head off to join the Tooth Fairy Bird.
All that flu hunting seems to have left him believing in magical mutations, yet bypassed by even scant knowledge of natural selection.

Still, media can continue producing titillating articles on Mr Neutron Flu – it really, honestly is the most dangerous disease on the planet.

17 March article by Marc Siegel criticises Webster silliness:

“… I’m sorry if I’m making people a little frightened, but I feel it’s my role.”

I disagree. As one of the top flu experts in the world, Webster’s role is to track influenza in the test tube, not to make sweeping speculations that are not based on science and do far more harm than good. By his estimate, we should be destroying every bird in the world right now before we all perish in a pool of pathogens.

The cost of bird flu hysteria

Post edited by: martin, at: 2006/03/17 08:35