Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Dead Birds, Fish Not Linked to Any Conspiracy"

Stephen S. Morse, PhD., Co-director of USAID Emerging Pandemic Threats – PREDICT Program

Biological Agent/Virus Expert Weighs In
on Global Mystery

Over the last several months, tens of thousands of birds have fallen from the sky, littering highways and roads in the United States and abroad. The bee population is decreasing at an alarming and rapid rate, which is causing great concern amongst beekeepers, environmentalists and scientists.

In addition, hundreds of thousands of dead fish, whales and giant squid are being discovered on many of the nation's beaches -- leaving many to wonder if these events are a sign of the Apocalypse.

In the wake of these mysteries, a number of conspiracy theories have been presented: from the U.S. military's Hi-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP - to a New World Order plan to poison the planet and its inhabitants --

Now, it's time to look at some of the facts surrounding these strange occurrences.

Stephen S. Morse, PhD., FAAM, is the co-director of USAID Emerging Pandemic Threats – PREDICT Program and one of the country's foremost experts on viruses and biological agents. A renowned professor at Columbia University's Department of Epidemiology -- at the Mailman School of Public Health -- his professional interests include epidemiology of emerging infections (a concept he originated), international cooperation for infectious disease surveillance, and defense against bioterrorism.

Morse was contacted for an assessment of what may have caused the unusual deaths, and he graciously provided the following comments for this world exclusive.

“I don't know of any particular single underlying cause for these unfortunate and dramatic incidents, and certainly don't feel they justify any conspiracy theories. Some of these events could be related to various environmental causes (water pollution for example), but to the best of my knowledge all the events you referred to are unrelated to each other,” said Morse

“For example, marine mammal die-offs unfortunately occur from time to time for a variety of reasons, ranging from a few animals straying into unfamiliar waters and getting stranded, to a food source suddenly disappearing, or an infectious disease (a -- different -- infectious disease also seems to be responsible for the problem with the bees, although the specifics are still unclear and various possible causes have been suggested).”

Morse continued, “Over the years, ProMED-mail (since its beginnings in 1994) has carried a number of reports of various fish or wildlife die-offs from time to time, so I think the question is whether there's anything new here, or are we just noticing and reporting them more? Truthfully, I don't know. Remember how we suddenly noticed more dead crows when the health departments were promoting citizen surveillance of dead crows to track the West Nile outbreaks?”

“Of course, we do need to be mindful and respectful of the environment, but that's good environmental stewardship and should be a given, even if we often fall short of this goal,” concluded Morse.

If you would like to obtain more information about Dr. Morse or the USAID Emerging Pandemic Threats – PREDICT Program, you may contact him via the information below.

Stephen S. Morse, PhD., FAAM
Professor, Department of Epidemiology

Columbia University

Mailman School of Public Health

722 West 168th Street, #1504

New York, NY 10032


Visiting Professor
University of California Davis

Tel. (office): +1 212 305-8054

Fax (office): +1 212 342-2843


Photo source: Stephen S. Morse, PhD

Photo credit: Stephen S. Morse, PhD