Monday, October 10, 2005

Bird Flu Pandemic

Bush Considers Military Role in Flu Fight By JENNIFER
LOVEN, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 5 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - President Bush, stirring debate on
the worrisome possibility of a bird flu pandemic,
suggested dispatching American troops to enforce
quarantines in any areas with outbreaks of the killer

Bush asserted aggressive action could be needed to
prevent a potentially crippling U.S. outbreak of a
bird flu strain that is sweeping through Asian poultry
and causing experts to fear it could become the next
deadly pandemic. Citing concern that state and local
authorities might be unable to contain and deal with
such an outbreak, Bush asked Congress to give him the
authority to call in the military.

The president has already indicated he wants to give
the armed forces the lead responsibility for
conducting search-and-rescue operations and sending in
supplies after massive natural disasters and terrorist
attacks — a notion that could require a change in law
and that even some in the Pentagon have reacted to
skeptically. The idea raised the startling-to-some
image of soldiers cordoning off communities hit by

"The president ought to have all ... assets on the
table to be able to deal with something this
significant," Bush said during a 55 minute
question-and-answer session with reporters in the
sun-splashed Rose Garden.

Dr. Irwin Redlener, associate dean of Columbia
University's Mailman School of Public Health and
director of its National Center for Disaster
Preparedness, called the president's suggestion an
"extraordinarily draconian measure" that would be
unnecessary if the nation had built the capability for
rapid vaccine production, ensured a large supply of
anti-virals like Tamiflu, and not allowed the
degradation of the public health system.
"The translation of this is martial law in the United
States," Redlener said.

Personal note: There is no rapid vaccine production
anywhere in the world. The specific virus needs to be
identified BEFORE an effective vacine can be produced.
It would be several months before mass quantities of
vaccine would be available and we still would not know
if it would work at all. Anti-virals will have little effect
if any.

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