Bird Flu Infecting Common Sense

Not since Alfred Hitchcock have we been so afraid of birds.

As CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Kaledin reports, so far, the biggest danger from bird flu is getting caught in some kind of bird flu cure scam.

Luisa Conlan returned from a trip to Paris last week feeling sick.

"I had a fever and a cough and I got nervous," Luisa says.

Like so many Americans, fear of bird flu had gotten the better of her. The nasty virus plaguing birds in Asia and now showing up in Europe, is probably spreading fastest ... in our imaginations.

As a result, doctors like Len Horovitz are overwhelmed.

"You can't imagine how many phone calls and requests I've had for prescriptions and advice," Dr. Horovitz says.

Bird flu, it seems, has infected our common sense. And for some business people, it's not such a bad thing. There's money to be made.

In a throwback to the SARS epidemic which killed about 700 people, but never developed into the worldwide killer as feared, facemasks are resurfacing as the investment of choice.

One Web site is even hawking a mask that claims to kill the bird flu virus. Doug Beplate, the mask's inventor, says, "We have seen a dramatic increase in sales and interest in the mask worldwide."

And sales of the antiviral drug Tamiflu are also through the roof.

But before you spend your hard earned money on masks, medicine and a bunker somewhere in the hills, take a dose of reality.

Who should be really worried? For one, chicken farmers in Asia or anyone who works or lives near large populations of fowl.

However, you cannot get it from your parakeet, nor from eating chicken. In fact, so far there's no documented evidence you can even get it from another person

But if you're worried, a prescription of Tamiflu won't hurt, but don't buy it online where prices are being jacked up.

And if and when bird flu arrives here, if you feel comfortable wearing a facemask "as a barrier precaution," that's fine too says Dr. Horovitz.

And finally, keep washing those hands. That still works, even against the deadliest of germs.

Oh, and by the way? Luisa just had a cold.