The Avian Flu

Avian influenza (subtype H5N1) has been confined mainly to domestic and wild bird populations.  By mid-2006, the more than 200 recorded human cases had generally occurred under the circumstances of close bird-to-human contact.  However, the virus has a very high mortality rate, raising concerns about possible mutations that would allow human-to-human transmission resulting in a flu pandemic.

While this scenario may never occur, the Institute, along with world health organizations, U.S. health organizations and many other institutions, is preparing for such an outbreak.

"As it has been said, 'Hope is not a good plan.'  We can use whatever preparations we make for a pandemic and apply them to any other emergency situation that may arise in the future.  It is always wise to stockpile gloves and masks, and to maintain good communication on local, as well as state and federal, levels," asserts VMI physician Dr. David Copeland.