H5N1 Moves Another Step Closer

I'm sure you are reading the news of belated Federal actions in preparing for bird flu. Sunday's news reported the first probable European outbreak in birds, in Romania. As I am headed there in late November, my antennae are quivering. Beyond physiological concerns, this is the first, direct, tip-of-the-iceberg personal warning of the economic consequences of an approaching pandemic. While short of panicking (I have not cancelled my Romanian trip, for instance), I am dramatically accelerating my and my family and friends' preparations—e.g., working on self-sufficiency on our Farm, laying by a 6-month supply of normal prescription medications, procuring appropriate masks, dealing with possible short-term financial issues, etc. Surely Katrina has taught us all that "You're on your own," at least for a while, is "good management practice" for friends and family.

(And, obviously, businesses. For instance I talked on Friday to members of the tanning salon industry. Most are "mom & pop" entrepreneurs, hardly sporting very deep pockets. Their industry would doubtless be hit hard and fast at the slightest hint of H5N1 in or near America. Hence 100% of their revenue stream could evaporate on a week's notice; there are, literally, millions of small entrepreneurial businesses in much the same boat. I'm not by disposition an alarmist, but I am unable to conjure a scenario under which pandemic would not lead to a sudden, wholesale economic crash. Not to mention the likes of the riots the Feds modestly project at places of vaccine storage and delivery.)