WHEN I WROTE the first draft of my second novel, The Armageddon Strain, something in the back of my mind feared parts of the plot would one day come true. Welcome to “one day”.
The H5N1 avian influenza virus used as the backbone of a new hybrid monster plague in The Armageddon Strain is decimating bird populations in parts of China and Southeast Asia. Up until just a week or so ago, reports of these infections have shown a remarkable resistance to the virus among chickens – in other words, the chickens became infected but survived the virus only to be slaughtered by humans in the culling process that remains one of the best ways to prevent further spread.
But now the rules have changed.China is now reporting over 500 deaths in chickens – directly from viral infection. H5N1 is preying on domestic birds, and it’s killing them at an alarming rate. Bear in mind, too, that whenever China gives out information, that you must evaluate that information in light of China’s reluctance to reveal anything negative. So, one has to wonder if the numbers might not be much higher.Both Derek and I write from the headlines – we extrapolate today’s news into a five year advance future. I wrote AS in 2004. You do the math.