WASHINGTON, DC—The avian influenza virus, a mutant flu strain that has claimed the lives of 31 people in Eastern Asia since it was first observed passing from birds to humans in 1997, has the nation's foremost alarmists extremely agitated.

Representatives from the Alarmist Council.

"Right now, the bird flu is just a blip in the newspapers, but if the avian influenza virus undergoes antigenic shift with a human influenza virus, the resulting subtype could be highly contagious and highly lethal in humans," Matthew Wexler, the president of the National Alarmist Council and one of the nation's leading fear mongers, said Monday. "My professional opinion, and more importantly, my personal belief, is that this is a cause for great national alarm."

Wexler's sentiments were unanimously upheld by members of the alarmist community.

"The bird flu could cause a global influenza pandemic similar to the Spanish Flu that killed more than 20 million people in 1918," medical alarmist Dr. Preston Douglas said. "Many experts also believe a major global flu outbreak to be imminent, if not—God forbid—already underway. Why, recent observation and documentation has recorded at least one case of human-to-human transmission of a rare strain of the avian influenza virus. If this one case is proof that the animal virus is mutating into a contagious, lethal human virus, then the entire world is basically doomed. Doomed!"

Douglas is best known for his brilliant alarmist analyses of flesh-eating bacteria, Ebola, and SARS—all of which he successfully developed into topics of major international trepidation.

Bird flu was first identified as a strain of infectious influenza in Italy in the early 1900s. Of the 15 subtypes, only subtypes H5 and H7 are known to be capable of crossing the species barrier from birds to humans. The first human outbreak, which occurred in Hong Kong in 1997, killed four people. Since then, the bird flu has remained a relatively minor virus, killing fewer individuals than common-cold variants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued neither an epidemic warning nor a public-health alert in connection with bird flu.

According to leading alarmists, the CDC's lack of immediate concern is a cause for alarm.

"So, basically, the CDC doesn't have the first inkling of what to do about a potentially explosive form of flu that infects ducks and chickens," said Fox News Science, Health, and Epidemics Commentator Marylinne Kent. "Given the popularity of these two birds as a food source among Asians, and the fact that we have no idea how many undocumented Asians have settled illegally in our nation, the potential for danger is extremely high."

"I urge you all to think of your families," Kent added.

Harold Jefferson, a founding member of the American National Citizen's Institute for Alarm, read from a prepared statement Tuesday.

"We have to face the facts: This isn't just a rapacious killer that could be incubating anywhere within our borders and for which there is no known cure," Jefferson said. "It is also an indicator of the profound indifference of millions of American citizens. Mark my words: People who aren't scared now will look pretty stupid if it turns out that they should have been."

Jefferson added: "The bird flu could someday claim as many lives as Mad Cow Disease."

Ruth Herrin, the New York Post's veteran panic expert, has relied heavily on information provided by alarmists in the scientific community.

"Listen, I'm no disease expert," Herrin said. "But I know that people should be warned about global devastation any time a devastation scenario can be extrapolated from an actual news report. And for the 16th consecutive month, that time is now."

None of the nation's 15,000 certified alarmists have offered a strategy to deal with a possible outbreak.

"Listen, finding cures is not my job," Wexler said. "I just report the facts as best and as briefly as I can. Then I interpret them in what I, as an alarmist, believe to be the most effective fashion. And if what I perceive here is real—namely, a looming epidemic and an atmosphere of apathy and fatalism in the U. S. medical community—then we are facing Armageddon."