Bird Flu Pandemic Just One Step Away

Posted on October 11, 2005

VOA News reports that World Health Organization (WHO) Director General, Dr. Jong Woo Lee believes that there will be a Bird Flu pandemic. Woo says all that's left is for the flu virus to mutate into a form that easily spread from human to human.
"The burning question is, you know, will there be a human influenza pandemic?� said Dr. Lee. �I believe, on behalf of WHO, I can tell you that there will be. And right now the only one condition missing is the virus that is rapidly transmitted from human to human."
Recently, potential new cases have been discovered in Romania and Turkey but they have not yet been confirmed as H5N1, the bird flu strain that has infectious disease experts concerned.
And the bird flu keeps spreading. In the past few days, the avian flu was detected in two European nations. Officials restricted access to a Romanian village after three ducks were found dead from the virus. And in Turkey, 3,000 turkeys and chickens were culled after another 1800 turkeys died of the disease last week. To prevent the further spread of the disease, Turkish officials have indicated they will continue to kill poultry in the affected area for the next three weeks.
In a CNN news story U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt said the keys to stopping a bird flu pandemic will be containment and quickly finding instances of human-to-human infection.
Leavitt said "containment" was the first line of defense against the illness, encouraging countries to step up development and production of vaccines and strengthen efforts to detect any cases of human-to-human transmission early.

"Anywhere, the sooner we know, the faster we can respond and the more lives that will be saved," he said.
Leavitt is right that information is the key here. The Sars outbreak in Southeast Asia proved that when information was withheld it cost lives. A Bird Flu outbreak could be even more difficult to stop than Sars because flu tends to spread easily in the air.
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