Help Is on the Way for Possible Bird Flu

By: Lindsay Puccio
By: Lindsay Puccio

November 1, 2005

President Bush said that failure to act now on the possible Bird Flu pandemic could cost many U.S. citizens their lives. Today the president announced he has a plan and so does the local health department.

Bush acknowledged that Avian Flu is mostly an animal disease right now, but that could change, and he wants the country to be ready. He proposed a multi-billion dollar plan to fight it.

The deadly bird flu is spreading across flocks of poultry in Asia and Europe. Although it has killed 62 people and infected over one hundred, the virus doesn't seem to have the ability to easily attack humans.

Scientists all over the world are still sounding the alarm that it could mutate and infect humans, resulting in a pandemic.

"Early detection is our first line of defense," said President Bush.

President Bush outlined a plan to better protect America in the event of a flu pandemic. This 7.1 billion dollar plan includes being able to detect outbreaks, get teams ready to respond, stockpile drugs, and find ways to make new vaccines fast.

"If a pandemic strikes, our country must have a surge capacity in place that will allow us to bring a new vaccine online quickly," said President Bush.

Here locally, the Charlottesville Health Department is doing its part to ensure the same results. A plan was put in place last year but they feel it's necessary to have a meeting once again to discuss how they can improve.

"We're really trying to collaborate closely with our community health partners to make sure that [the] plan is workable, that it's timely, [and] that it addresses all the things that we've learned in the past 6 months," said Roy Crewz, of the Thomas Jefferson Health Department.

The Health Department meeting will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 9. President Bush's own plan comes after criticism that the U.S. had lagged behind other countries in preparing for the pandemic.

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