The Bird-Flu experts are scratching their collective heads about a difficult problem.
Under the government rules, flocks infected with the Bird-Flu virus are put to death as quickly as possible. That’s because if the disease spreads, it imperils both farms and foods they raise, not to mention the fact that some strains of the virus can also kill people.
An earlier cousin of today’s bird flu strains killed perhaps 40 million people around the world during the 1918-1919 pandemic of Spanish flu.
More than 23 million fowl have been exterminated in U.S. outbreaks since the early 1980s.
The industry prefers the term “depopulate,” but no euphemism softens the raw reality of putting down birds by the tens of thousands. This may be done by electrocuting, gassing or chopping under international standards.
Yet, in a virulent outbreak, even these may be too slow and spare too many.
So representatives of industry, academia and government have been looking for another way.
For three years, they’ve investigated the fastest, cheapest and, they say, most humane way to dispatch birds en masse. After debating and field-testing, they say they’ve found an answer in an unlikely place.
The new poultry-killing instrument of choice is foam.
These soapy air bubbles, adapted from what firefighters use to smother blazes, can smother birds within several minutes, with minimal contact between workers and infection. Supporters say this method saves precious hours and costly labor.
The problem is that some consider it less humane than gassing. Carbon dioxide at least knocks birds unconscious before it poisons them, say its advocates.
Foam simply fills their windpipes and strangles them. “You might as well drop them in a bucket of water,” fumes Dr. Mohan Raj, a British veterinarian at the University of Bristol who specializes in animal welfare during disease control.
So what we really need are Mass Killers of Birds needed, for the final Solution of the infected Poultry!
Please do read this amazing news item, via Philly.com, by JEFF DONN writing for The Associated Press: http://www.philly.com/philly/wires/ap/news/state/pennsylvania/7919106.html
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