News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Holes in US Detection of H5N1 Plague (aka Bird Flu)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Holes in US Detection of H5N1 Plague (aka Bird Flu)

As European countries scramble to catch up with the Bird Flu, US experts realize there's a "situation." ...

In the past three weeks the H5N1 flu has broken out of its Chinese cage and raced across three continents. US readiness and awareness of the situation has certainly come into question.

The following report from Reuters, points up the gaps in any prospective US response to the disease:

Bird flu could be incubating in areas around the world where no one is looking for it and U.S. agencies are struggling to help plug the gaps, agency heads told Congress on Thursday.

But they said the spread of the H5N1 avian influenza virus was looking worse than ever and asked for sustained funding to build networks to watch for and respond to disease outbreaks.

"Our current situation now is not a good situation. We have these ongoing and widespread outbreaks," Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told a hearing of a House of Representatives appropriations subcommittee.

"We know this virus can successfully infect animals other than humans. We know that this virus is evolving. Last year's strain looks different from this year's strain," she added.

"The high fatality rate warns us that we are dealing with a highly lethal virus that no one has natural immunity to."

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