Question: I'm getting worried about bird flu. Is there anything I can do about it?

FYI: We answer the questions that keep you up at night

by Courtesy cafepress.com

Courtesy cafepress.com

Answer: Well, you might follow the lead of a guy named John Davi. Not long ago, Davi, a 27-year-old California screenwriter, had the same question, and this dead-bird-emblazoned button is the result. Otherwise known as H5N1, the bird virus is currently stalking Asia and, many fear, could spark a worldwide epidemic in 2006.

Davi came up with the pandemic-themed products-in addition to the buttons, there are T-shirts, mugs, hats, even infant onesies-as a laid-back way to spread awareness. "It comes across as pretty kooky to approach people and say, â€Hey, let´s talk about this bird flu that´s going to kill everybody,´ " he says, adding, "Not that wearing a T-shirt that says â€Ask me about bird flu´ is totally normal, but it´s not as confrontational."

The items (which are available at h5n1wear.com) bear such slogans
as "Pandemic fever-catch it!" The groupie-style "Bird Flu Tour" shirts list New York, Tokyo and other world cities that the virus would be likely to hit in the event of an outbreak.

Davi has been following bird flu
in the news since he first read about it early last year. He found himself perturbed, not only about the threat but that so few people seemed to be aware of it. "It was the prospect of imminent death that got me," he says. "If there was a huge meteor coming at the Earth, I´d be concerned about that, too."

If you buy one, we suggest these talking points:

+ One strain of avian influenza in particular, H5N1, is endemic in birds throughout Asia and has recently spread to Europe.

+ Because H5N1 is new, humans have no immunity; more than half of those who have contracted it have died.

+ Person-to-person transmission of H5N1 is unconfirmed, but the virus mutates rapidly, increasing the potential for transmission between people.

+ If a fully contagious virus emerges, a pandemic is inevitable.
Conservative estimates predict that 7.4 million people worldwide would die.

Prices range from $1.60 for a button to $32.50 for a hooded sweatshirt. Profits will be donated to pandemic-related charities.