I'm as concerned about a pandemic as anybody, but am appalled at the bird-flu fearmongering in Directions Magazine aimed at scaring up the money for yet another expensive global web mapping system. I'm willing to bet that, in the wake of a flu pandemic, we're going to be wishing not that we had a fancier web mapping system, but that we had a more robust physical public health infrastructure. I'm talking lab equipment, stockpiles of reagents, well-trained and motivated lab technicians, and well-funded community health centers.
The author of the article has a long track record of ignoring natural pandemics in favor of sexier and more outlandish threats to The State (previous articles at the bottom of that page), but is trying his best to make up for lost time. To top it off, he reveals to us that natural outbreaks may not be as natural as they seem:
The threat is real. The crisis is just around the corner. Whether naturally occurring or brought on as a terrorist act, this must be addressed. What? You don't think Al Qaeda would use the bird flu as a weapon against the US? Think again. Remember the West Nile Virus (WNV)? Reports that the US strain of the WNV is more deadly than anywhere else in the world have not been fully investigated. Could the WNV outbreak in the US have been engineered? I am not sure anyone has the answer. But it is something to consider.
Al Qaeda attacked us with West Nile Virus? That's just nuts. Who was behind the 1918 flu? The Illuminati?