While there are certainly some people that haven’t even heard of the Avian flu – or as it is commonly called, bird flu – others have deemed the disease an imminent threat.The disease is a strain of influenza found in birds to which humans have not built up a natural immunity.
Even though the virus, at this time, has only passed from bird to human and not from human to human, many agencies around the world have been tracking the spread of the virus in hopes of containing it.
Many organizations have predicted millions of deaths should the disease mutate into a strain capable of passing among human populations and rightly so. Of those in Asia infected with the virus, about 50 percent of the cases proved fatal.
Without an active human-to-human strain, however, targeted vaccines for the virus are more difficult to produce. The spread of the disease and migratory patterns of birds that could carry the disease are being closely monitored. There have been calls to produce enough antiviral medication to treat possible pandemic outbreaks. Very little more than that can be done.
President Bush has called for billions of dollars in funding to bring newer medical technologies to the front line in fighting possible outbreaks. He has asked for funding to help countries without the technology to track outbreaks and coordinated efforts with the countries that do.
Plans have even been suggested that the military would be used to quarantine affected areas to stem the spread of a disease. Little more can be done, especially when a pandemic doesn’t even exist yet.
The Democrats have claimed that Bush has not done enough and is moving slowly in his efforts to prepare this country, but these charges are, at this time, baseless.
Give Bush the benefit of the doubt while there is no imminent threat.
The benefit of the doubt, however, requires the press and the public to scrutinize the preparations from now on.
Opinion Editor Brian Chatman for the Editorial Board