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April 6, 2005

-- Opinion --

Governments need to take bird flu more seriously

By John Elfed Hughes

I am concerned about a possible worldwide epidemic of dangerous bird flu.

Though we've only recently heard stories in the media about this virulent disease, back in 1997 the World Health Organization warned labs around the world for a need to produce a vaccine.

Yet today we appear no closer to finding one.

The bird flu disease has killed over 30 people in Thailand and Vietnam and more than 100 million birds across Asia have been culled, but all of this may still not be enough to prevent it spreading.

The other worrisome matter for Asia is the potential economic suffering from the mass slaughter of poultry.

It truly is scary. I urge governments around the world to take this matter much more seriously. Not enough is being done to find a vaccine for the deadly flu variant H5N1.

There's a tendency to sometimes think that because we live in a modern world such death would be small, as many have access to good health care.

However, flu epidemics have happened throughout history and we could face millions of deaths -- worse than The Black Death which hit many parts of the world in the 14th century.

Bird flu has the potential to kill millions at any time. It is a time bomb which must be dismantled before it's too late.

We are vulnerable until we find a vaccine.


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