Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Bush and the Bird Flu

I have been waiting a long time to hear what the president of the United States is going to do about the possible future pandemic of avian flu. What stockpiles of antivirals is he creating? What research into vaccinations is he funding? What is he doing with the health care system to prepare it for this type of a catastrophe? How is the United States cooperating with the World Health Organization?

Now I have received my answer: quarantine:

President George W. Bush suggested using the military to contain any epidemic of avian influenza on Tuesday, saying Congress needs to consider the possibility.

He said the military, perhaps the National Guard, might be needed to enforce quarantines if the feared H5N1 bird flu virus changes enough to cause widespread human infection.

"If we had an outbreak somewhere in the United States, do we not then quarantine that part of the country? And how do you, then, enforce a quarantine?" Bush asked at a news conference.

"It's one thing to shut down airplanes. It's another thing to prevent people from coming in to get exposed to the avian flu. And who best to be able to effect a quarantine?" Bush added.

"One option is the use of a military that's able to plan and move. So that's why I put it on the table. I think it's an important debate for Congress to have."