Avian Flu

I did not have the Avian Flu. Whatever flu I had was quite persistent. I’m finally better today after almost a week of heavy congestion, muscle aches and fatigue.

CNN had a story today on the concerns around a global pandemic. Bush says the possibility of an avian flu pandemic is among the reasons he wants Congress to give him the power to use the nation’s military in law enforcement roles in the United States.

Last week, the U.N.’s health agency, the World Health Organization, sought to ease fears that the disease could kill as many as 150 million people worldwide.

Over the past couple of days I had time to read a few books. Seize the Fire: Heroism, Duty, and the Battle of Trafalgar by Adam Nicolson chronicled the historical and cultural context of Nelson’s famous battle. On October 21, 1805, the British navy crushed the combined fleets of Spain and France near Spain’s Cape Trafalgar, thwarting Napoleon Bonaparte’s planned invasion of England and leading to a century of British maritime dominance.

Nicolson describes the impact of plagues on the population in the times leading up to the 1700s and 1800s. Plagues killed about a third of Europe’s population. The pandemic during those times is described here.

I do hope the current fears on a global pandemic are overstated. However, governments and businesses are making plans on how to best deal with a global pandemic.

On Thursday, the Senate added $4 billion to a Pentagon spending bill to head off the threat of an outbreak of avian flu among humans. The bulk of the money – $3 billion – would be used to stockpile Tamiflu, an antiviral drug that has proved effective against the H5N1 virus – the strain blamed for six deaths in Indonesia last week.

U.S. health agencies have about 2 million doses of Tamiflu, enough to treat about 1 percent of the population. The money added by the Senate would build that stockpile to cover about 50 percent of the population.


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