BioPerspectives

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May 31, 2007

Preparing for Pandemic Flu

  • How ready is the global community for a potential flu pandemic? Despite an outbreak of SARS several years ago and continuing reports of bird flu cases, most nations, including the U.S., are not very well prepared, notes David Ozonoff, M.D., professor of public health and chair emeritus in the department of environmental health at the Boston University School of Public Health. The potential price for this lack of preparedness in terms of human morbidity and mortality could total in the millions.

    During this week's podcast Dr. Ozonoff identifies which regions around the world have recently experienced bird flu outbreaks and outlines the implications for the potential spread of the disease and its associated lethality.

    He also talks about advances that have been made in diagnosing and treating the disease and looks at what is taking place in the world of vaccines.

    Dr. Ozonoff addresses the point made by some NIH researchers who say that scientists and public health officials should expand their focus beyond H5N1 viral strains because the next pandemic could occur as the result of infection by a different influenza virus.Regarding the lack of preparedness for a potential flu pandemic in the U.S., Dr. Ozonoff makes a number of suggestions for coping with such an outbreak effectively.

    Listen now to this very important podcast then return to the blog to give your thoughts on the following questions:

    Do you think that a pandemic flu outbreak is inevitable? If so, what actions must the global medical community take now to cope the potential worldwide impact of such an epidemic?