"There have been three flu pandemics during the past 100 years. The 1918 Spanish flu is estimated to have killed up to 50m people worldwide. The Asian flu of 1957 was caught much earlier but still claimed one million lives. The Hong Kong flu of 1968 was responsible for a similar number of deaths. Most scientists agree that another flu pandemic is inevitable. Many say it is overdue."
"We understand there's a lot of guesswork in developing flu vaccines - a process that's actually under way right now for next winter. And we understand as well that manufacturers of vaccines have dwindled because of the lack of profit in the vaccine area over the years. That's worrisome."
"In April 2005, President George W. Bush approved use of quarantine in the event of a U.S. outbreak of “influenza caused by novel or reemergent influenza viruses that are causing, or have the potential to cause, a pandemic,” which includes, but is not limited to the H5N1 strain of avian flu currently in Southeast Asia." "Travelers suspected of having the bird flu can now be detained when arriving in the US."
"The military's intelligence arm has warned the federal government that avian influenza could be used as a weapon of bioterrorism, a heavily censored report suggests. It also reveals that military planners believe a naturally occurring flu pandemic may be imminent. The report, entitled Recent Human Outbreaks of Avian Influenza and Potential Biological Warfare Implications, was obtained under the Access to Information Act by The Canadian Press. The report outlines in broad terms the methods that could be used to develop a manmade strain of influenza capable of triggering a human flu pandemic. It notes a method called "passaging," while not entirely predictable, could be a "potentially highly effective" way to push a virus to develop virulence. Passaging involves the repeated cycling of strains of a virus through generations of a species of animals or through cell culture. The process can be used to either ratchet up or dial down the virulence of a virus, depending on which of the ensuing offspring - the mild or the severe - are selected in each cycle for the next passage."
"An influenza virus that caused the deaths of more than 1 million people in 1957 ["until scientists made a vaccine against it"] was mistakenly sent to thousands of laboratories around the world during the past six months, health officials confirmed [today]. Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cautioned at a news conference [today], "While the risk is very low, we're not taking any chances, and we are doing everything we can to make sure there is no threat to human health." According to Gerberding, at least 4,000 labs in 18 countries received the virus in quality-control test kits sent out by Meridian Bioscience Inc. of Cincinnati, which makes influenza test kits for medical facilities. U.S. health experts said the threat of public exposure to the virus, known as the H2N2 "Asian flu," appears low. And the World Health Organization (WHO) reported on its Web site that there have been no cases of the flu strain anywhere in the world."
"It has not been included in flu vaccines since 1968, and anyone born after that date has little or no immunity to it. Outside the United States, labs in Canada, Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, Belgium, Bermuda, Chile, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Mexico, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Taiwan received the kits. The WHO said Canada, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore had already destroyed their samples, while Japan was doing the same. Taiwan and Germany also announced that they had destroyed all their vials."
"White House spokesman Scott McClellan says resolving the situation is a high priority, and that no chances should be taken in dealing with the virus."
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