Saturday, August 27, 2005

What we need to know about the bird flu

Alex Steffen at worldchanging invited bloggers to do our part to help raise awareness about the dangers of the avian flu. It is widespread in avian populations and deadly to humans. We need to take it seriously, and we need to urge our governments to take it seriously.

Unfortunately we have many unanswered questions:
Will it ever achieve efficient human-to-human transmission and ignite a pandemic? If that happens, will it become less lethal in the process, or perhaps not lethal at all? How many people will it infect? How quickly will it spread? How long will it last? How much antiviral medication will be available in different parts of the world, and how well will it work? How long will it take for an effective vaccine to be available? Which countries and which people in those countries will get the vaccine first? How well will health care systems cope? How well will national and international economies cope? And how well will civil society cope?
But there are things we can do:

Helping resolve government policy dilemmas is just the beginning. Thailand, for example, has trained almost a million volunteers to reach out to every village in the country to inform people about the risks and signs of bird flu and how to try to protect themselves and their flocks. Many companies, hospitals, schools, and local governments around the world are starting to plan for "business continuity" in the event of a pandemic. Even cognitive and emotional rehearsal—learning about H5N1 and thinking about what a pandemic might be like and how you'd cope—is a kind of preparedness and a kind of involvement.
For more information, check out the wikipedia.

PS. I'll blog about Earthaven when I get the pictures--it will be a lot more fun with them.

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