Bird Flu Fears Won’t Go Away (But Should)

The results are in: Lots of Americans are still misinformed about bird flu. On Monday, Rutgers University researchers released their survey assessing public perception of the threat posed by the over-hyped virus. And here’s their most startling finding: A full 39 percent of respondents said they would stop eating chicken if highly pathogenic bird flu were found in a U.S. chicken.

This is primarily the product of activist fictions, not scientific facts. And it indicates that things haven’t much changed since our November 2005 survey, which found that nearly half of Americans mistakenly believe they can catch bird flu by eating infected chicken.

So before the Humane Society of the United States scares and confuses more Americans with its anti-meat misinformation campaigns, here’s a Fight Club-inspired review of the relevant facts about bird flu:

It’s impossible to catch bird flu from properly cooked chicken.
It’s impossible to catch bird flu from properly cooked chicken. Cooking at normal heat kills the virus. And common sense while cooking prevents contamination of any sort.
Scientists have yet to find a strain of the virus that can easily jump between humans and animals, which is what would need to happen for large numbers of people to be at any real risk.
The chance of an infected bird getting into the American food supply is very low. The vast majority of U.S. poultry is produced domestically under tightly regulated conditions. And the U.S. government has banned poultry imports from countries with bird flu outbreaks.
The vast majority of infections have occurred in rural villages in Southeast Asia, where people can catch bird flu through their daily contact with live, infected birds.
More people die ever year from the common cold than have ever died from bird flu infections.

For more facts about bird flu — and how anti-meat activists are scaring people away from their drumsticks — check out our extensive "Bird Flu: Questions and Answers."

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