Are you aware of the quiet news about emerging viruses?

" .....Bird flu poses a greater risk to New Zealand than foot and mouth ever did, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry,2106,2785539a7693,00.html The NZ article says that it is "possible H5N1 could mutate and be transmitted between humans. At this stage that is still only a potential risk, although certainly one that international experts are taking seriously."

The re-emergence of SARS, the news that animal Ebola epidemics often precede the human ones (Science Daily), the deaths due to West Nile Virus and the realisation that virus strains can mutate so rapidly - this may become a source of terror against which it will be very hard to wage war.

The animals will be sacrificed first of course. I hear that in China and Hong Kong they have drowned, electrocuted or poisoned just about anything that could possibly have carried the SARS virus. But if it is migrating birds - what will our leaders do then? Shoot everything? Shock and awe the virus? I expect so. Fat lot of use it will do us.

Maybe the world will end with a whimper rather than a bang after all. And really, looking around the world at the moment, perhaps one is tempted to say "serve us right ".