A bear, a lion and a chicken meet up in a chat room.

The bear types: "If I roar in the forests of North America, the entire forest is shivering with fear."

Not to be outdone by a mere bear, the lion taps in, "If I roar on the great plains of Africa, the entire savannah is shivering with fear."

The chicken, typing with his beak, says, "Big deal. I only have to cough, and the entire planet is shivering with fear."

Fellow Hand picked… blogger Mark has come down with a nasty dose of man-‘flu this week, which in our current climate of pandemic fear could have us all running around the office like headless chickens, screaming for the tamiflu®. Hopefully, Mark’s just tucked up at home with the Lemsip®.

For those of you that aren’t too familiar with it, Man-‘flu’ is the strain that can have a man laid up in bed moaning ‘I’m dying’ for days and putting a strain on the nursing skills- and nerves – of any woman within earshot. It’s near fatal to men, apparently.

Worrying as Mark’s illness is, it could be worse. The UK’s traditional xmas turkey dinner may be hanging in the balance as the country’s turkey capital, East Anglia, has been hit hard over the past week with the deadly H5N1 strain of avian influenza. As if British agriculture didn’t have enough to deal with right now.

Rachel’s Hand picked… blog, way back in February reflected the country’s hope that the deadly strain had been contained. However, the fact that she had unearthed evidence from the CAB Abstracts database that H5N1 had enjoyed a much less well publicised visit to this island in 1991, does raise one or two doubts. And some of Robert’s recent foot and mouth disease also makes me wonder whether we in the UK are capable of containing any virus, not least one that can drop in from the sky.

Since Rachel’s post, 261 new records have been added to CAB Abstracts. Nine of these are addressed specifically to the UK outbreak she reported on.

If it’s the human element you’re after, however, search Global Health instead for ‘Avian influenza* AND man’.

I’m sure if Mark were here, he could scare us all with some nasty parasites that chickens can carry as well, but I’ll leave that to him when he’s up to it. Get well soon, Mark!

Many thanks to Bird-Flu-News for the jokes. This site also has a serious side and is keeping us well updated on the situation in the UK.

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