Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Health secretary: States to ration bird flu vaccine

States will get to decide how to ration scarce vaccine if bird flu triggers a worldwide epidemic, the nation’s health secretary said Tuesday - a decision that means where people live could determine their protection.

“Let’s acknowledge the fact that for the first six months of any pandemic, we’re not going to have a vaccine,” Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt told The Associated Press.

Once doses start being produced, “this is a battle that’ll be fought in thousands of communities simultaneously. What’s working in one community may not work as well in another,” Leavitt said in a joint interview with Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.

The U.S. is girding against the deadly H5N1 strain of bird influenza on two fronts: What to do if this virus one day mutates into a form easily spread among people and makes its way here via ill travelers - and, more immediately, what to do if it wings its way here in a migrating wild bird.

Testing of wild birds, a total of 100,000 by year’s end, has begun in an attempt to catch the virus early if it does arrive that way - with some labs beginning to use a new test that can tell within just four hours if a bird is possibly infected, Johanns said.

Avian influenza story source

Posted by john T. on 06/07 at 09:47 AM
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