FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

US Braces for Avian Flu Outbreak

The federal government might have been caught flatfooted by Hurricane Katrina, but it intends to be more proactive in fighting a possible outbreak of avian flu (a.k.a. H5N1) this coming winter. At a cost of $100 million, President Bush has ordered an experimental French vaccine for the disease in response to outbreaks that have been reported in Indonesia.

Scientists and health professionals disagree as to the risks posed by H5N1. Some suggest that the H5N1 virus is not rugged enough to spread globally, as did the 1918 flu that may have killed up to 50 million people. Others, though, are more pessimistic. "We know we're overdue for an influenza pandemic strain, and we know it will occur, but we don't know when or even exactly what virus will cause it," says Dick Thompson, a spokesman for the World Health Organization. "It is possible that the virus won't be H5N1 at all or that this virus will change in a way so that the vaccine under development doesn't work against it."

Hopefully we wont experience the vaccine shortages that we saw last year. So at any rate, the best things people can do to stay healthy this season are to get their flu shots and practice good personal hygiene (especially hand washing). Having a couple of treatments of Tamiflu on hand might not be bad either. And if you do get sick, stay home if at all possible, both to take care of yourself and to not infect others.

Source: FuturePundit