Avian Flu Update

Ken AshfordAvian/Swine FluLeave a Comment

I think this is going to be a big story, so I am inventing a separate category for it:

WASHINGTON – In developing a plan to deal with any possible outbreak of pandemic flu, the Bush administration has concluded that the United States is woefully unprepared for what could become the worst disaster in the nation’s history.

A draft of the final plan, which has been years in the making and is expected to be released this month, says that a large outbreak that began in Asia would, because of modern travel patterns, likely reach the United States within "a few months or even weeks."

If such an outbreak occurred, hospitals would become overwhelmed, riots would engulf vaccination clinics, and even power and food would be in short supply, the plan says.

The plan, a 381-page document that was obtained by the New York Times, calls for quarantine and travel restrictions but concedes such measures "are unlikely to delay introduction of pandemic disease into the U.S. by more than a month or two."

The plan outlines a worst-case sequence of events in which 1.9 million Americans will die and nearly 9 million will be hospitalized with costs exceeding $450 billion.