India Uncut

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Sunday, July 31, 2005

Influenza: A worldwide threat

David Brown writes in the Washington Post:
Public health officials preparing to battle what they view as an inevitable influenza pandemic say the world lacks the medical weapons to fight the disease effectively, and will not have them anytime soon.

Public health specialists and manufacturers are working frantically to develop vaccines, drugs, strategies for quarantining and treating the ill, and plans for international cooperation, but these efforts will take years. Meanwhile, the most dangerous strain of influenza to appear in decades -- the H5N1 "bird flu" in Asia -- is showing up in new populations of birds, and occasionally people, almost by the month, global health officials say.
The word that strands out in the above extract: "inevitable". If or when a pandemic -- an outbreak of epidemics across continents -- does take place, most governments will shrug it off as an unforeseen calamity. But it is anything but unforeseen: check out this excellent special section on the possibility of an outbreak of avian flu in the magazine, Foreign Affairs.

(WAPO link via Primary Red who wonders if India would be ready to deal with such an epidemic. Ha.)
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