Bird Flu

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Bird Flu

I have been hearing from some that the bird flu hoopla we have recently heard about is a publicity stunt. Others say the threat is very real. Perhaps what settles the argument is this article.

Take a look at these excerpts:

"Most bird flus emerge briefly and are relatively localized," said Dr. Andrew T. Pavia, chief of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Utah and chairman of the pandemic influenza task force of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. The most worrisome thing about H5N1, Dr. Pavia said, is that it has not gone away.

"It killed tigers at the Bangkok zoo, which is quite remarkable because flu is not traditionally a big problem for cats," Dr. Pavia said.
It has also infected pigs, which in the past have been a vehicle to carry viruses from birds to humans.

"We should be worried but not panicked," Dr. Pavia concluded.
The timing of the bird flu's emergence also makes scientists nervous, because many believe that based on history, the world is overdue for a pandemic. Pandemics occur when a flu virus changes so markedly from previous strains that people have no immunity, and vast numbers fall ill.

"In the 20th century there were three pandemics, which means an average of one every 30 years," Dr. Fauci said. "The last one was in 1968, so it's 37 years. Just on the basis of evolution, of how things go, we're overdue."

The article is pretty balanced saying that the crowded conditions of past epidemics don't exist today and thus the spread of a rapid epidemic is less likely. For example there was the crowding of millions of troops during World War I that turbocharged the spread of disease. Furthermore in past epidemics people migrated from the country to the city where they were exposed to flu bugs for the first time. They had no resistance. Another point is that many people died from bacterial infections in past flu epidemics and now we have antibiotics.

Still, it is worth doing more research and being more prepared. Looking back, it seems like President Clinton had an easy presidency. Look at the events that have taken place in the last five years, 911 and Katrina. In the prior eight years all we had to worry about was a booming economy. President Bush probably knows he doesn't really have the luck of the Irish on his side. He knows what they say about an ounce of prevention as well. Of course in our government that ounce costs
$4 billion.

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