Bird Flu Pandemic

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Nov 24, 2003
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Great. Just what I needed to hear with a trip to SE Asia loomimg

"GPs to get drill for bird flu pandemic
By Cathy Newman, Chief Political Correspondent
Published: August 18 2005 22:07 | Last updated: August 18 2005 22:07

Every doctor's surgery in Britain will next month be sent official instructions on how to handle an outbreak of bird flu as ministers step up their preparations for a global pandemic that, if the worst fears are borne out, could kill up to 50m people.

The UK's 10,465 surgeries will receive a package of information from the government to help tackle a flu pandemic, which scientists warn is now inevitable. Ministers and officials have privately expressed the view that a bird flu pandemic poses a greater threat than terrorism.

GPs will be sent a 50-page pamphlet from the chief medical officer describing the symptoms of bird flu and setting out how to contain a pandemic. Each surgery will also be given 50 copies of a leaflet for patients.

The Department of Health says up to 50m people could die worldwide, of whom between 50,000 and 650,000 would be in the UK.

Ministers are anxious to be able to demonstrate, if the virus strikes, that they have done everything possible to limit its impact.

The government has been accused of failing to stockpile enough vaccines to combat the virus but officials say they cannot develop a jab until they know the exact strain.

Roche, the Swiss pharmaceutical group, is close to agreeing a donation of up to 3m doses of its antiviral drug, Tamiflu, to the World Health Organisation in an effort to limit the effects of a bird flu pandemic.

There have been three flu pandemics in the past century. The worst was the 1918 “Spanish flu” pandemic, which led to the deaths of 250,000 people in the UK alone and up to 40m globally.

The H5N1 strain of flu, which can pass from birds to humans, has killed at least 57 people in south-east Asia since 2003. But it has yet to mutate into a form that can be easily transmitted between humans."

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