The number of deaths in Indonesia from bird flu just shot past the 100 mark without even pausing — 101 was recorded right afterward. Tibet announced an outbreak and the disease continued to march through the Indian subcontinent, although the UN flu czar, Dr. David Nabarro said he thought the Indian/West Bengal outbreak was “coming under control.” The use of the progressive tense here (“coming under control”) suggests this is a mix of hope and belief and in any case indicates the outbreak is still not under control. Which won’t come as a surprise to the residents of Kolkata (neé Calcutta):
While the state government on Wednesday claimed that the onslaught of bird flu is coming under control, there was panic at Maheshtala in Kolkata after the mysterious death of 200 chickens there. State animal husbandry minister, Anisur Rehman, however, did not confirm it.
“We are awaiting the report of the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory in Bhopal but since the Union government has permitted us to notify and start the culling, we began the process,” Mr Rehman said. Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee will hold a video conference on Thursday with the DMs and sabhadhipatis of the 14 affected districts. (Asian Age)
Given the hundreds of thousands or millions of birds that have died you might ask why the death of 200 is causing a panic and the answer is fairly simple. Because people in India don’t believe anything their government tells them about this. Government statements say one thing (“Don’t worry. We have it under control.”) and tangible evidence (what people see, hear and feel with their own eyes and hands) tells them something else.
It reminds me of that old Groucho Marx line about the man who discovers his wife in bed with someone else. She denies it: “Who are you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes?”