I wasn’t sure whether avian flu was going to turn out to be the next over-hyped Swine Flu or the next Black Death, with carts rumbling through the street and guys shouting "bring out your dead." Then I saw this story, about an insurer that will provide coverage for outbreaks of avian flu, and I knew that if someone is willing to insure against it, it’s improbable.
Here’s a perspective about infectious disease. Just north of my mother’s farm in North Dakota there is a little forgotten graveyard, a church cemetery. The church is gone without a trace, but the headstones of the dead are still there. When I was a kid, we used to visit these little country graveyards and look at the names, and it gave an eerie sense of community with those, both living and dead, who were gone from the land. In the little graveyard near our farm, there is a sad tale to tell: the flu pandemic that swept the world after World War I hit one young family, whose deaths are all recorded on one tombstone. First the mother died, just a month or so after giving birth. Then a child about 4. Some months later, the father died. Lastly, the little baby died. I don’t know if there were others in the family who survived. Very few of us have had to face anything like this. Remember these people, and remember that we live in fortunate times.
UPDATE: Sorry for the third link in this post, it’s a registration required story from the Toronto Globe and Mail. It came through my bloglines and I didn’t realize a registration was needed. Basically, the story is about a small insurer called Mint Canadian who is new in the Canadian market and is willing to provide insurance to small businesses for outbreaks of avian flu and other diseases, such as mumps. You tell me when the last time you went to a neighborhood shop and found a sign saying "Closed Due To Mumps."
Here’s a quote in the story from Barrett Hubbard, managing director of Mint Canadian: “Canada, because of SARS, and because of the Legionnaires a bit, was an excellent place to at least consider targeting this. It’s a modern economy, it’s got lots of international travel, and it has had these events happen to it, so I think people are more sensitized to the need.”