HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Bird Flu and the Administration

This morning President Bush gave a brief news conference discussing mainly his selection of Ms. Miers for the Supreme Court.  He did, however, mention the Bird Flu (in response to a reporter's question) and how the United States might respond to an outbreak.  He seems to think a "military quarantine" is a possibility. Here is the Effect Measure take on his response:

Specifically, Bush was asked if he saw a larger role for the military in the event of a pandemic and he essentially responded, "Yes," saying that if avian influenza were to break out in a portion of the country, one option might be to "quarantine" that area and use the military to enforce it.

Outside of the fact this kind of thinking is pretty scary stuff, most public health experts know it won't work. Movement is too free and easily accomplished and the American people cannot be forced to do something they think will hurt them or their families. They'll find a way around it with ease. Remember that a quarantine would have to be essentially complete and airtight, because this is a self-reproducing organism. Only one or a few people getting through or for that matter entering the US from elsewhere where the disease is active would negate such a Draconian measure. Bush's public health experts certainly have told him this, so one can assume its object is not to stop disease spread but to control the population.

Here is more from MSNBC on President Bush's remarks. [bm]

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