Letters to the Editor

Should we be concerned about Avian Flu?

The Avian Flu is a flue that spreads fast. Should we be concerned? We don’t know if it’s coming or not, so what should we do? Should we be prepared or just ignore it and maybe it will stay away. What if it comes and kills a lot of our people, we’ll wish we were prepared. We’ll never know when or if it will, it could be tomorrow or next year or never, but it think we should stock up on food, water, stove oil and other supplies we need. We’ll use and need them whether the flu comes or not so why not be safe, ‘cause we don’t want to be sorry. Some ways to be safe are not to touch any dead birds, cook your birds thoroughly, never touch anything after touching birds, and wash your hands after touching birds.

Andy Atti, Jenna Fox, Brenda Dock
Kipnuk High School

Avian Flu concerns

With all the concerns about the Avian Flu, no one is positive that this is really going to happen. We have heard about this virus on the news. This Flu is a contagious virus that may kill the human body. The birds that come and nest in our area may be infected by the Avian Flu but we don’t really know. Scientists should run some tests on the birds that we eat. This deadly disease that may run into our land should be detected soon.

Michael Paul, Natalia Paul
Kipnuk Student

Let’s be prepared

My classmates and I just got done reading about the “bird flu” from The Delta Discovery. The “bird flu” is called avian flu. It’s in three continents, they are Asia, Europe, and South America. The people who work in the AVCP crew are saying that it will be like the tragic influenza that hit the Yup’ik people of Alaska a long time ago, back in the days when our ancestors were living. First of all, we all don’t know if the birds that come here are infected, and to be prepared. When your loved ones go out hunting for birds in this coming spring and fall, tell them to wash their face or anything they will touch before they eat. And when women are plucking birds and they are done, wash their hands with soap, because if you touch your face you can get infected with this avian flu.

Cik Paul
Kipnuk Student

Avian Flu – we should have known sooner

I am really concerned about the Avian Flu. How did you guys know about the birds when they are gone in the winter and you’re telling us now? You should have told us sooner during the fall when the birds were here. I feel as if not enough facts about the Avian Flu were found. Now I want to know more about this flu. So when are the scientists going to find out more about the Avian Flu? I need to know more of the basics and about what will we do in the hunting seasons. I want to know if fishes and marine animals like the seal will or will not catch the flu because we eat them too. Do you think there will be no more of our traditional native foods?

John RC Paul, Matthew K. Anaver
Kipnuk High School


We are not prepared!
by Martin Kelly

To whom it may concern, I hope this letter finds your Family all in good condition.

I’ve been paying a little more attention to the Avian (H5N1) Flu for some days now. I strongly feel this is going to be the most important topic for the upcoming AVCP Special Convention in Bethel this coming week.

I wouldn’t want to cause alarm, but there is a possible pandemic (worldwide epidemic) influenza on the horizon, it’s not a matter of when it’s going to happen but that it’s definitely going to happen, soon. The factors relating to this issue are growing according to world leading experts who cover and have studied similar influenza that have destroyed humans by the masses. (1918/1919-Spanish Flu Pandemic, which reported 40 million deaths, some occurred within 48 hours).

To this date there have been 94 reported deaths caused by the “Bird Flu” virus, the main concern coming from leading scientists and practical physicians today is this H5N1 Avian Virus might mutate into a form that can be passed like a common cold (pathogen). It is evident that the H5 (main cell) of the H5N1 virus can jump from species to species. The H5N1 Avian Flu has not only been found in birds alone but has also been found in a cat. The Bird Flu Virus causes respiratory infection that can be anti-biotic resistant; accordingly (as I understand) there is no known vaccine to create immunity to the Bird Flu virus to this date.

The death’s that are said to be related to the “Bird Flu” virus show that it attacks the immune system, reports and studies have discovered that a “healthy or strong” immune system are more at risk for this potential.

There are people in the world right now that are preparing for this pandemic. They are stockpiling essentials to help accommodate living in quarantine for at least 6 months. History has shown that influenza does not come with seasons, it is said to stay dormant for at least 2 to 3 years.

Since we are in the Pacific Migration Route and have one of the world’s largest Refuge and habitats that hosts hundreds of thousands of several different species of birds including swans, geese and ducks, we are greatly at risk. This annual migration includes birds from Europe and Asia, where more of the Avian Flu has become a major concern and issue.

The worst case scenario would be just for one bird in our region to be infected with this virus or even one of us to cause havoc and panic. Everyone I know, including myself, eat swans, geese and ducks. There is definitely a magnitude greater than we can expect, there is a need for our people to read, listen and learn more and more about this Avian Flu.

My main question is, “Are we as Yup’ik people ready?” I know a lot of people may think that I am overreacting, if you remember there was the SARS virus that killed X amount of people which over time became forgotten. My answer would be that we are not prepared, our villagers live in close quarters and I believe that if this pandemic hits, it will come very close to wiping out the existence of my Yup’ik people, mainly because we handle, butcher and ingest the main carrier of this virus in the form of swans, geese and ducks. I know if it also hits, families would have to go into isolation, we’d have to quarantine contact between different families, different villages and the outside world.

In our history…by way of mouth, I’ve heard from people who experienced and lived through similar influenzas in our Region like tuberculosis which killed many of our ancestors and of how they lived in isolation. Some even said that we would experience great death again.

I care very much for my Family and I care very much for my people. We all have seen death in many different forms – natural death, cancer or even suicide. It is inevitable that our people are going to be affected, we need to prepare. I strongly believe it is better to be safe than sorry, especially with the spring migrations only weeks away. It might not happen this spring, but when it happens…it’s going to catch a lot of people by surprise. I would very much like to share my thoughts, I strongly invite what other people have to say.

Martin Kelly is the Tribal Administrator for the Pilot Station Traditional Council.