April 15, 2005

Cockfights And Flu

The Washington Post's undercover report yesterday on cock-fighting and avian flu was by turns fascinating and terrifying. And then there was the plain ol' gross:
It is this proximity to the blood and breath of the frenetic fighters that can make cockfighting so hazardous to humans. But the intimacy of the owners and trainers with their birds also poses a profound danger.

Between the 20-minute rounds, the owners scrubbed the blood off their birds with bare hands, wringing out the rags on the ground. Then, with ordinary thread, they stitched the wounds around their eyes and fed them painkillers. Sometimes, Phapart recounted as he watched the hurried surgery, the injuries are so severe that owners relieve the swelling by sucking out the blood by mouth.
And how do they get the roosters to hold still when they're sewing up the eyes? Huh? Meanwhile, I've been reading through the new avian flu blog and it seems that first-world countries are all kicking vaccine production into high gear. Now in the event of a pandemic, I would imagine that the first and most blindingly obvious place to send all those vaccines would be right to ground zero: Vietnam or Thailand or wherever this stuff starts breaking out. Innoculate the nurses and doctors, at least. Realistically, though, are the U.S. and Europe really going to give away their medicine stockpiles to a handful of third world countries, even if it's the most rational course of action? No, probably not.
-- Brad Plumer 1:28 PM || ||