Experts say that US is safe from bird flu threat.
According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the National Institutes of Health's infectious disease chief, "The surveillance is going to be so intense that it is very unlikely that there is going to be the type of situation we see everywhere from Nigeria to Indonesia."
AdvertisementStatistics according to the World Health Organization reveal that bird flu has killed 109 people in nine countries, mostly in Asia. It's also killed or forced the slaughter of more than 200 million chickens, ducks, turkeys and other domestic fowl in Asia, Europe and Africa. He also said, "One migratory bird does not a pandemic make. U.S. poultry farmers -- like their colleagues in Europe -- keep their birds isolated from contact with wild birds. Most people in the United States, in turn, have limited contact with poultry or their droppings that, if the fowl were infected, would contain high levels of virus."
Explaining the mode of action of spread he said that to do that, the virus first must undergo a series of genetic changes -- changes that ultimately could make bird flu even less virulent. Generally, the more easily a virus can be spread, the less virulent it is.
"It is entirely conceivable that this virus is inherently programmed that it will never be able to go efficiently from human to human," he said. "Hopefully the epidemic (in birds) will burn itself out, which epidemics do, before the virus evolves the capability of being more efficient in going from human to human."
As a calming statement he said that the public, however, should worry only if bird flu begins showing signs of evolving into more of a human threat. In that case, airline passengers arriving from an afflicted area would pose a greater threat than any chicken.
He concluded by saying, "At the end of the day, you have a broader, more favorable, beneficial effect on society by preventing the spread by vaccinating the spreaders -- not the grandpa who sits at home watching TV and doesn't go out and spread it to anybody but is concerned about it coming into the house. There has not been a policy change in that, but it is under very active discussion."