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Bird Flu

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We are essentially in a life-or-death race with the bird flu. Can we figure out how to preempt it before it figures out how to evolve into a transmittable form with 1918 lethality that will decimate humanity? To run that race we need the genetic sequence universally known — not just to inform and guide but to galvanize new research.

Charles Krauthammer, in today’s Post column.

I interviewed Dr. Mark Horton, chief health officer for the County of Orange, California, earlier this week to review the basics of public health concerning the potenbtial arrival of the flu. (With its enormous population of immigrants from Southeast Asia and large volume of cross-Pacific traffic, Orange County is considered one of the likely points of entry for the flu after it shifts into the easily communicated form people fear.) Education of the medical community on symptoms and safe treatment, the hospitals on isolation protocals, and immigrant communities most likely to be first affected are the essential early steps, and they ought to be underway in any county of any significant size.

The federal government has done its job of sounding the alarm, and the media has done its job of commmunicating that alarm. The federal government is funding the vaccine research that is necessary, but state and local governments have to get their public health staffs up to speed, and investigate some crucial stockpiling of potentially useful drugs like Tamiflu.

It doesn’t have the colorful graphics of Katrina, but local governemnts everywhere have all the warning they should need to get the preparations underway in a professional, calm fashion.

Local bloggers might want to ask their local health departments for a look at thier avian flu plans.


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