HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Government Not Prepared for Bird Flu

Was anyone else slightly alarmed by the government's preparation recommendations for the potential  bird flu pandemic -- stocking up on powered milk and canned tuna fish (both you are apparently supposed to store under your bed).  More details on this from the Daily Kos website,

"Did you know that flu experts met in Washington this week and took stock of the situation? The conclusion, after evaluating what's going on here and abroad, is that we're not ready if it should ever get here.

U.S. experts expect to be overwhelmed by bird flu


WASHINGTON, Feb 2 (Reuters) - U.S. flu experts are resigned to being
overwhelmed by an avian flu pandemic, saying hospitals, schools,
businesses and the general public are nowhere near ready to cope.
Money, equipment and staff are lacking and few states have even the
most basic plans in place for dealing with an epidemic of any disease,
let alone the possibly imminent pandemic of H5N1 avian influenza, they
told a meeting on Thursday. While a federal plan has been out
for several weeks, it lacks essential details such as guidance on when
hospitals should start to turn away all but the sickest patients and
when schools should close, the experts complained.

The Feds agree. HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt is touring the country (he was in CT yesterday), explaining about the disastous 1918 flu and warning that if (and when) a pandemic strikes the US, and you're not prepared, there's no cavalry coming from DC.

Rell and Leavitt signed a resolution at Thursday's event to affirm the
state and federal governments' commitment to work together on pandemic
planning. Local officials who attended the conference also were
directed use its lessons as they create or revamp their own
municipalities' preparedness plans.

But the details include a $1 million grant to prepare all of CT. That works out to be around $32,000 per CT's acute care hospital, and  if you think that's enough to solve this problem (if nothing else, that'll buy enough tamiflu to treat 10,000 of CT's 3.5 million citizens), I've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. The Feds know this, and that's why they're warning citizens to consider stockpiling food and water in the event services are disrupted."


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