January 2, 2006

AVIAN FLU UPDATE:

The U.S. is making fast progress in preparations for a bird flu pandemic, including measures to close down schools and quarantine the sick, but vaccine supplies remain inadequate, health officials said Sunday.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Julie Gerberding, director of the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, citing “bottlenecks” in vaccine production and the delivery of health care if there’s an outbreak.

“We’ve got to get more and better anti-viral drugs. And we’ve got to have every single link in our public health system as strong as it can be so it can detect this problem,” she said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

With luck, we’ll make it through this year without problems, though there’s evidence that regular flu is already overstressing some hospitals out west. If hospitals are having trouble handling ordinary flu, that’s a good sign that we’re not ready for a major epidemic of any kind.

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