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National Review Online

 

For the Birds or Sleeping with the Fishes?

March 14, 2006

By David Gratzer

H5N1, a virulent bird flu, was once endemic to Southeast Asia — but cases are now found as far away as Afghanistan and Turkey. There is plenty to be concerned about. HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt advises us to stockpile tuna and powered milk.

The raw anxiety stems from new research suggesting that America’s deadliest flu came from birds. Eighty-eight years ago, just weeks after Babe Ruth lifted the Boston Red Sox to victory in the World Series, his hometown plunged into the hell of the Spanish flu. That horror would, in the coming days, claim the lives of 600,000 Americans; the worldwide toll exceeded the casualties of World War I.

But let’s pause for a moment. Subsequent influenza pandemics didn’t cause that type of devastation. And to date, there has been no sustained human-to-human transmission of H5N1.

What then to do? Back in the fall, the White House released a national strategy, including investing in vaccine research, coordinating with state and local levels of government, and working with foreign countries to detect viral outbreaks. These ideas were relatively modest but important. Unfortunately, Congress has been slow to act. Rather than having Americans stockpile tuna, congressional action would be more productive.

Original Source: http://www.nationalreview.com/symposium/symposium200603140821.asp

 

 
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