A few years ago, at the height of a national terrorism alert, the fed- eral government suggested people stock up on duct tape and plastic sheeting in case of terrorist attacks. The suggestion made for many a punchline. This year similar fun is being had about a possible bird flu pandemic. But even a brief review of what virtually all experts are saying quickly shows this is no laughing matter.
Indeed, Minnesotans should take heed of the serious, unpredictable nature of bird flu and do what they can to prepare for it or some related pandemic.
Need convincing? Here's what the World Health Organization said in August as part of a report on responding to the threat of an avian influenza pandemic:
"The risk of a pandemic is great. Since late 2003, the world has moved closer to a pandemic than at any time since 1968, when the last of the previous century's three pandemics occurred. All prerequisites for the start of a pandemic have now been met save one: the establishment of efficient human-to-human transmission. During 2005, ominous changes have been observed in the epidemiology of the disease in animals. Human cases are continuing to occur, and the virus has expanded its geographical range to include new countries, thus increasing the size of the population at risk."
The spreading of the virus among animals, especially poultry, poses major concerns to the poultry industry, a key part of central Minnesota's economy. International associations, the federal and state governments and even local poultry producers are monitoring the virus very closely.
- St. Cloud Times
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