Friday, October 14, 2005

And I looked, and behold a pale horse:

From your Chicago Tribune:
In the face of an uncertain threat that avian flu could cause a new pandemic, political leaders at every level are grappling with the disquieting fact that the United States has almost no ability to stop an outbreak of the disease if it strikes here soon. ***

Few other lawmakers were focused on the issue last March, when Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) proposed $25 million in foreign assistance to help prevent an outbreak.

Obama said he was concerned in part because as a child he lived for five years in Indonesia, which recorded its first human cases this year.

"I knew that part of the world and was familiar with how the livestock operations are--they're in people's back yards," Obama said. He said the problem in Southeast Asia is urgent because wherever a pandemic starts, it's likely to arrive in the U.S. within four to six weeks.

No one knows whether a new flu outbreak would kill as many as the 50 million killed by the 1918 pandemic worldwide, though some estimates are that the toll would be far higher. Daniel Lee, the new pandemic coordinator for Illinois, said models from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest the virus would kill up to 9,000 people in the state and sicken as many as 4.5 million.
And no, we won't get to pick which 9,000.

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