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ORLANDO, Fla. (CAP) - While the rest of the world battles the emergence of avian flu as the possible source of the next pandemic, the United States is coming to grips with another potential danger: crocodile flu.
"Diagnosing this illness is one of our biggest problems," Dr. Stephen Bright said at the annual American Croctologist Convention held at the Exit 13 Sheraton in Orlando, Florida. He tapped his peg leg with one of his hook hands for emphasis. "Who here has had difficulties taking the anal temperature of a crocodile to verify infection?"
A good two dozen hook hands rose across the sparsely populated room.
In an exclusive CAP News interview, Dr. Bright admitted that crocodile flu was not as potentially dangerous as the more publicized avian flue. At least not globally.
"It becomes a pandemic problem when the flu can pass from the animal to a human, and then the human can pass it on to another human," Dr. Bright said as he tried to work a Tic-Tac out of its box with his hook. "Unlike with chickens, we don't have a whole lot of contact with crocodiles, hence the danger of a pandemic is less."
Still, the potential is there. Famed crocodile hunter Steve Irwin is quarantined now anytime he sneezes. And tourism, particularly in the state of Florida, could suffer a massive blow.
"No one goes to Bangkok to see the chickens," said Florida State Tourism spokesman Emmanuel Bush. "No one goes to Bangkok and says, 'Wow! A chicken! Throw it that steak from your purse, Ethyl, and let's see what it does.' This could potentially be devastating not only to Florida's tourism industry, but to the beef industry as well."
Meanwhile in the Fuck-Your-Cousin Belt, the locals are optimistic. "Flu - oooooh, is that that there Gator Aids I was hearing about? Shoot, I ain't worried. I catch me one with a temperature, I'll just have to cook him less," said Cletus Johnson as he poled through the Okefenokee Swamp with his daughter/second cousin.
The American Croctologist Convention is expected to release its annual report next week.