Fed Health Chief - US
Unready For Bird Flu

From Patricia Doyle, PhD
The Feds are NOT ready for ANY disaster, even a localized disaster caused by a hurricane or earthquake. Hospitals are NOT ready for a heavy seasonal flu season.
It is UP TO THE PUBLIC to BE READY, to BE SELF-SUFFICIENT for at least TWO WEEKS, preferably ONE MONTH. Communities must learn to work together. Church and civic groups must learn to "teach" people HOW to be selfsufficient.
Also, the arrival of avian influenza, H5N1 into North America DOES NOT MEAN A FLU PANDEMIC is going to happen. H5N1 is still an avian influenza. It will be necessary for humans to avoid contact with sick birds. It will also be necessary for people to keep their pets INDOORS.
If anyone is contemplating purchasing a dog or cat at this time, they should be informed of the risk and the need to keep the pet indoors. When walking a dog be sure that it is kept on the leash and monitored so that the pet will not come into contact with birds.
The first step that the Feds should take is informing peole of the things I discussed above.
In my opinion, the Feds may NEVER be ready to manage ANY disaster. There are just too many agencies involved in addressing disasters and interagency bickering and lack of communication keeps the agencies from achieving their overall goal. In short, "there are too many chefs in the kitchen."
I am also afraid that many of our politicians do not understand what Avian Influenza really is. They are more interested in using politics to contain an outbreak as opposed to an agricultural, veterinary and medical response.
While all of the tongue-wagging and agency competition is ongoing I think that each and every one of us needs to be following through on our own disaster preparations.
A pandemic may never arrive, the virus may NOT mutate but somewhere down the road, mother nature may strike. We may be very happy that we planned for ourselves and our families. I always advise adding some extra supplies for neighbors and friens who did not head the warning.
....and PLEASE DO NOT FORGET TO PLAN FOR YOUR PETS. Pet food, and pet supplies are as important as our own provisions.
Patricia Doyle
Fed Health Chief Says US Unready For Bird
Flu Urges Planning To Handle Any Pandemic
Top Bush administration officials are bracing for the arrival of the feared H5N1 strain of avian influenza into the United States within a matter of months, with the virus most likely to be carried here by migratory birds, the same way it has spread from Southeast Asia to Europe and Africa.
Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, repeating a warning he issued from Washington the day before, told reporters in San Francisco on Tuesday that it was "highly probable" that within just a few months, a wild bird would bring the virus to North America.
"That would not be a crisis,'' he counseled. "It would only be a crisis if it began to infect people."
Leavitt was in San Francisco for a talk before the Commonwealth Club, where he discussed a broad range of health issues, from the high cost of medical care to local preparation for a flu pandemic.
During a brief meeting with reporters after his speech, he also disclosed that he plans to meet with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for a bird flu summit at the end of the month to discuss ways that California can prepare for a potential influenza pandemic.
To date, the H5N1 strain has been lethal primarily to domestic poultry in nations where it has been detected, but since 2003 it has also infected 177 people, killing 98. Nearly all the human cases involved people in close contact with infected birds.
Scientists fear that the ever-evolving H5N1 strain could mutate into a form that spreads easily among humans, starting a pandemic capable of killing millions.
"Pandemics happen,'' Leavitt told the audience at the Commonwealth Club. "They are a biologic fact of life.''
He noted that there have been 10 pandemics in the past 300 years, and three in the last 100 years. "We are overdue, and we are underprepared,'' he said.
The H5N1 strain may never transform into an efficient killer of humans, but its spread throughout the world via bird migration routes is worrisome. The more widespread the virus, the more chances it has to evolve into a strain humans can spread to each other.
But as to when the next pandemic might strike, Leavitt said, "The truth is, we just do not know.''
The Bush administration has called for spending $7.1 billion on pandemic flu preparedness -- $3.3 billion of that for the development of vaccines. But Leavitt stressed that if a pandemic struck the United States, the bulk of the responsibility for dealing with it will lie with local communities.
Local readiness will be a primary theme of the summit meeting with Schwarzenegger on March 30 in Los Angeles. California Director of Health Services Sandra Shewry said Tuesday in a telephone interview that the purpose of the meeting will be to spread the word about pandemic-flu preparedness beyond the politicians and public health community.
"We want to start talking to Chambers of Commerce, the faith-based community and the schools,'' she said.
The summit would be similar to 20 others that Leavitt has co-hosted in other states. Shewry noted that, unlike responses to natural disasters such as earthquakes, communities and states will be less able to depend on others for assistance. "Our ability to rely on mutual aid will be diminished,'' she said. "We won't be able to call on our neighbors in Nevada, because they will be dealing with their own."
Patricia A. Doyle, DVM, PhD Bus Admin, Tropical Agricultural Economics Univ of West Indies Please visit my "Emerging Diseases" message board at:
Also my new website:
Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa
Go with God and in Good Health




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