CHINA, AND SPREADING FAST — Avian influenza – a commonly referred to as “bird flu – is back after a years-long hiatus. Recently spotted in China, the bird flu is up to its old tricks: transmitting from birds to human beings, and leaving bodies in its wake. Although it has only managed to kill six people so far this year, the virus seems to be picking up steam and, according to the flu, its return couldn’t have come soon enough.
“It feels good,” said the deadly influenza virus, in an exclusive interview with Newslo. “The vacation time was nice. Occasionally you just need to take a break and put things into perspective, know what I mean? Ravaging entire populations can be exhausting work.
“But I couldn’t stay away forever. Killing birds and the occasional human being is my calling – sometimes I think it’s what I was put in this world to do.”
Indeed, in its earlier incarnation (H5N1), the bird flu managed to dispatch more than 300 human souls in just a few years. This time it is calling itself H7N9, and has even more audacious goals.
“Don’t get me wrong – I’m proud of 359. It’s nothing to sneeze at (pun intended). But I’ve always felt that I was destined for greater things. Ever since I was young, jumping from pigeon to pigeon in the Reagan 80’s (what a decade!), I’ve seen the Spanish Flu as a huge role model. If I can pull off just a fraction of what that one did – say, 500 million people sick, maybe 60 million dead – I’ll be happy with my legacy.”
But if bird flu wants to secure its place among history’s deadliest pandemics, it has some work to do. Chinese officials have begun euthanizing infected bird populations in hopes of preventing its further transmission to humans, and medical researchers are diligently searching for drugs to treat avian influenza’s most life-threatening symptoms and render it less contagious.
Bird flu is sanguine in the face of such obstacles, however. “Frankly, I’m not concerned. I can mutate at speeds you wouldn’t believe. Plus, I’ll be honest: I like a challenge. If wiping birds and humans off the face of the planet was easy, it wouldn’t be any fun.”