Home Store In Memoriam Deborah Newsletter Forum Topics Blogfeed Blogroll Facebook MySpace Contact Us About

H5N1 Avian Flu fears on FOX

Reported by Chrish - October 6, 2005

Special Report aired a segment yesterday 10/04/05 on the Avian flu which is currently affecting SouthEast Asia. There are no reported cases elsewhere but should there be an outbreak in the US or a "world-wide pandemic" you'll be thrilled to know a.) we are nowhere near ready to deal with it medically and b.) GW is thinking of using the military to enforce quarantines if necessary.

Last October's flu-mongering on FOX was more concerned with what effect if any the lack of preparedness would have on Bush in the election.

The fear began with "Experts agree that another huge outbreak of flu, a pandemic, will happen though no-one knows when or what strain of flu will set it off." In his news conference this morning Bush made it clear he's been paying attention to a strain of avian flu sweeping through flocks of birds in Asia.

Major Garrett reported that the avian flu in question, called H5N1, has killed 65 people in Asia but the UN says a pandemic could kill 5-150 million people world-wide. Asians have slaughtered millions of birds but the virus is not contained, says Garrett. Roughly 140 million wild birds throughout the world carry the virus, he says. The virus moves to domestic birds and then can move to people, mutating in the process , called a "shift", in which case humans would have virtually no immunity and a pandemic could result.

Video of Bush was interspersed with the report, saying "If we had an outbreak somewhere in the United States, do we not then quarantine that part of the country and how do you then enforce a quarantine." and "Who best to be able to effect a quarantine. One option is the use of, uh, a military that's able to plan and move." (Comment: So we can assume FEMA won't be involved in this.) (I find the whole idea of a militarily imposed quarantine about as terrifying as anything Saddam ever did to me.)

Garrett asked if the US health system is prepared to cope with such an outbreak, and Michael Leavitt, DHHS Secretary, said "No, and no-one in the world is." There is no vaccine and the anti-viral medicine is in short supply. The governement is building supplies but distribution remains a problem.

Garrett reported that 32 Senate Democrats have sent a letter to Bush saying the nation is dangerously unprepared, to deal with a flu outbreak, in part because the public health infrastructure is weak and advance plans have been needlessly delayed. Democrats say the administration isn't working fast enough, citing that a National Plan has not been released instructing public health agencies on how to cope with a flu epidemic. The administration says that plan will be released in a few days. (Comment: As soon as they whip one up.)

Comment: We need a national "War on Flu". This scenario replays every fall/winter and it seems to only line the pockets of the vaccine-makers. Since the flu-of-the-season changes annually vaccine-makers have steady work.

My point is that the struggle formerly known as the war on terror is very similar in a lot of respects to the war on flu. The enemy moves and morphs and as quickly as we can protect against one strain, it changes and we have to start all over. This constant preparation looks good and the administration can point to "progress" but the truth is it's futile and reactionary. If they can justify spending hundreds of billions of tax dollars on a futile war in Iraq, we should be spending whatever it takes here at home to make our public health services the best in the world.

Post a comment

Remember Me?

We welcome your opinions and viewpoints. Comments must remain civil, on-topic and must not violate any copyright or other laws. We reserve the right to delete any comments we deem inappropriate or non-constructive to the discussion for any reason, and to block any commenter for repeated violations.

Your email address is required to post, but it will not be published on the site.