Monday, February 27, 2006

"It is in the realm of reasonable probability that H5N1 will reach the United States this summer or early autumn."

H5N1 Blog is one of the sites I look at almost daily. The snips are from all over the place, but this caught my eye this morning and I thought it should be posted. It should be noted that when mention is made of bird flu is is about instances of the virus that occur in the animal population, typically wild birds but also domestic poultry which contracts the disease from migratory birds.

This recent interview with Laurie Garrett is very informative. For example...

We now know that the H5N1 virus is particularly robust, and can survive suspended in fecal material for more than a month, making it possible that a flock of dead chickens spotted today may actually have become infected as a result of pecking its way through feces deposited weeks ago by a passing goose.
By June or July, if the biological imperatives continue to follow their course, H5N1 should turn up in eastern Siberia, and then Alaska, via the East Asia flyway. It might also at that time jump from Iceland, via Greenland, to northern Canada. Once in the Arctic zones of the Americas, H5N1 will be able to follow any, or all, of the four primary north/south flyways that span the Americas, from the Arctic to Tierra del Fuego. It is in the realm of reasonable probability that H5N1 will reach the United States this summer or early autumn.
Instead of simply sitting back and watching nature take its course, the global community should be proactive. Being ahead of the virus is akin to being ahead of the migrating birds. Instead of waiting for dead birds, and even dying people, to turn up in new areas, political leaders should heed the warnings from science and act accordingly - as, apparently, Sweden and the Netherlands are doing. The Swedes and Dutch looked at their maps, plotted the movements of infected birds, and last week ordered farmers to bring their flocks indoors, out of harm's way. In poorer regions of the world, where indoor facilities for animals may be unaffordable, simple nets and fences can radically decrease contact between wild and domestic birds, and mass public education campaigns warning people to avoid contact with sick birds or carcasses may decrease the likelihood of avian-to-human transmission of H5N1.

Of course in order to plan and execute constrtuctive global plans to prepare for what is as plainly in our future as a hurricane forcast those inleadership positions have to stop political carping and gamesmanship long enough to do a little bridge building.

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