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Healthy geese on a farm in Germany




Poultry can be vaccinated against the H5 strain of the avian flu virus. A company in England, Intervet UK Limited, has been licensed to market its avian influenza vaccine Nobilis Influenza. This is the first such license to be issued in the Europen Union, but it is almost certain that most, if not all, of the European countries will utilize this means to halt the spread of avian flu. China, Hong Kong, Vietnam and other asian countries are already vaccinating their birds. Obviously, the fewer birds who can be infected by the flu virus, the less chance there is of the virus mutating into human to human form.

China was about halfway through vaccinating its poultry…some 14 billion ducks and chickens…against bird flu in December. It also said it had developed a much cheaper, domestically developed bird flu vaccine for animals and hoped to produce a billion doses by the end of 2005.

IF THEY CAN DO IT, WHY CAN’T WE????????????????????

Backyard flocks are now being vaccinated in the Netherlands, and they are working toward vaccinating all of the commercial poultry. As each bird is vaccinated, they receive a leg band to prove it. Some breeds like the Buff geese are now protected and cannot be culled during an outbreak. Zoo birds in the Netherlands and Belgium were vaccinated in December.

Vaccination of poultry in high risk areas (those on migratory paths or near water) are being vaccinated in France now.

The U.S., however, has chosen to keep the American public in the dark about this solution to the problem, and instead has done nothing, but yell, “Wolf, wolf, giant wolf coming…the sky is falling, the sky is falling!” and following it up by say, “And there is nothing you can do about it!” We don’t have the vaccines for people and we’re all going to die. Why? Our government knows all about the poultry vaccines. We have stopped outbreaks with it before and, now, even better and easier to administer vaccines have been developed. They were saying that we couldn’t use the vaccines, because when the birds were tested, it was impossible to tell whether the bird was testing positive because it was given the vaccine or because it was sick. Not so anymore. Vaccines are now available that have tracers that can be easily identified. Banding the birds negates any need to test. There are stockpiles of the poultry vaccine held by the government. Their reason for not using it is, that if we started vaccinating the poultry, other countries might assume we had an outbreak of H5N1 and were keeping it hidden. In other words, it may affect out exports, ergo income.

When and if they do use it, the policy is to give it all to the large poultry houses and kill all the outdoor, backyard, or organically raised poultry. Of course, the poultry in the large poultry houses are kept in HOUSES. They aren’t out there mixing with the wild birds that may carry the virus. The outdoor flocks are, but they refuse to vaccinate them or make the vaccine available to anyone who wants to protect their birds either from the virus or from getting killed by the government. In several countries they burn the birds alive.

The large poultry suppliers and exporters don't care, because they can't lose. They are afraid other countries won't accept export of vaccinated birds, and if they have to have millions of birds culled, they get paid market value for them by the government anyway! 

The policy right now is to wait for an outbreak, cull (kill) all the poultry within a certain radius of the outbreak and then vaccinate birds in surrounding areas. Why not vaccinate first so there is no outbreak and therefore no killing?  Not even our zoos have received the vaccination as yet.  Of course, we may not ever have an outbreak, but if we do everyone will have to vaccinate or take other measures in a panic. The zoos on the west coast are in the greatest danger as they are on the migratory routes. 

Yes, it could be expensive to institute a program of requiring all poultry to be vaccinated. However, all of our animals as well as ourselves are vaccinated all the time at fairly small expense and trouble. Unlike a vaccine for humans that can’t even begin to be developed as yet, these vaccines have been available for at least 9 or 10 years. If there were suddenly a great demand for an easily administered poultry vaccine, I somehow think somebody would be making a lot of it very quickly. That’s the law of supply and demand and the greater the demand, the lower the cost. Especially since this would not be a one time thing; it would be a perpetual market.

As of now, many countries refuse to accept import of vaccinated birds. This is a major political and economic tool. However, since Europe is now turning toward vaccination, if the U.S. got behind it, I think sometime in the fairly near future, that could be turned around to all countries refusing import of birds that have NOT been vaccinated. Obviously, even if a bird or two got through that somehow missed the vaccination, the chances of those birds (1) having contracted the flu and (2) passing it to people is a tiny percentage of the chances of unvaccinated birds being imported just because they don’t come from an area that has reported an outbreak.

Another argument against vaccination is that people would not eat vaccinated birds…economics, again. I don’t take economic factors lightly as, let’s face it, they make the world go around and put food on the table, but if the government and the media had not gone out of its way to frighten the public to death with alarmist and misleading information, and quietly vaccinated the birds as approved by the FDA, there would have been no problem. Now, if they do it, they have to re-educate the public. Even birds who have died of the avian flu virus are safe to eat if cooked properly.

Wild ducks, geese and other birds who have been vilified as carriers of this virus, have gotten a very bad press and will be in serious danger of practically being eradicated if a human-to-human pandemic ever occurred. Facts are; there have been few cases of wild birds having the H5N1 virus. In any cases where they have have been tested positive for it, the birds were dead. Dead birds don’t go around spreading a virus and H5N1 is a killer that doesn’t waste any time. It is quite possible that the wild birds who have died of H5N1 have contracted it from the domestic flocks. The wild birds can carry a strain of avian flu that hardly makes birds sick, much less humans, so there is no need to ever be afraid of a live, healthy looking bird. The problem arises when that very innocuous strain of the virus gets into a flock of domestic poultry and mutates into the H5N1. In order to mutate it must (and this is simply put) mix with another virus the domestic bird is already carrying and basically join forces. I would expect the reason why there are more cases in Asia is that their poultry is not protected sanitarily or medically nearly as well as ours are, and are more likely to be afflicted with other viruses.

When there is a method of not only preventing the mass killing of disease-free flocks of birds, but at the same time lessening the chances of human deaths, don’t you think we should convince our government to work on solving the economic and political problems and concentrate on the very practical solution of protecting the birds first?

I know many of you are very bothered by the deaths of thousands of chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese. It would bother you if the price of chicken went up, but that would be about it. However, the targets of the killing won’t be the millions of commercially raised birds that only have a life expectancy of about 10 weeks anyway. Considering the conditions of their lives during those 10 weeks, they would probably commit suicide if possible anyway! No, the targets will be small flocks, pet birds, breeding pairs, and rare species that are highly valued and very much enjoyed for their beauty and loving natures.

What action would you want to take if there were an outbreak of rabies among the wild animals in your area, and instead of vaccinating your pet dog against the disease, the government said, “Yes, we have the vaccine that would save your dog, but we won’t give it to you. Since humans can die of this disease and we have no vaccine for humans, we will kill all your pets instead.”

Ducks and geese have contributed to this world for thousands of years, giving us the warmth of down, food, eggs, beauty and wonder. They do not kill or threaten us and have the ability to live in peace down to a science. They are the “Mockingbirds”. Save them and yourself.

Nancy Townsend



The same geese after the government got through with them.
Germany is not vaccinating..not even the birds in the zoos.


CLICK HERE for previous articles on the avian flu virus