- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A
human outbreak of bird flu in the United States could deal a $675 billion
blow to the economy, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Thursday,
citing a new study by the Congressional Budget Office.
- Frist said the study assumed a 2.5 percent mortality
rate, that 30 percent of the population would be infected and that employees
would miss three weeks of work.
- "A nearly $700 billion hit to our economy -- almost
half of which is brought on by fear and confusion -- gives us every reason
to begin preparing a prescription and implementing a course of action today,
Frist said in a statement.
- The economic loss estimated by the study would amount
to a 5 percent reduction in gross domestic product, he said.
- Frist released the statement at a National Press Club
appearance to discuss the bird flu threat.
- The H5N1 avian influenza virus is spreading steadily
among poultry, pushing westward out of Asia into Europe.
- Health officials fear it will mutate, become easily transmitted
among humans and spread rapidly around the world, killing tens of millions
- The virus is known to have infected just 135 people since
2003 but has killed more than half of them.
- President Bush has asked Congress to allocate $7.1 billion
to fund his administration,s bird flu plan, but no measure has passed.
- Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.
- Patricia Doyle, PhD
- Hello, Jeff - As I stated so many times previously,
IF we can get farmers, the poultry induistry as well as game bird industry
(those raising cock fighting birds in Asia) et al, to identify cases, report
and contain in timely fashion there would be little risk of human outbreak.
- In Asia, parts of Eastern Europe and Africa many families
have backyard flocks. So, many of these families cannot afford to lose
their poultry and this is why so many family and small scale farmers have
hid the disease. Cock fighting is another problem. In Asia, such fighting
is a popular pastime and owners refuse to admit cases of bird flu as they
don't want to lose their birds.
- If bird flu, H5N1, is confirmed in Zimbabwe, and other
parts of Africa, we will have a problem getting people with family or small
scale flocks to admit any infections. To many families, their poultry
is all they have. Will some of the African nations, like Zimbabwe, compensate
farmers for bird losses?
- Doubtful. The regime of Robert Mugabe has been anything
- Until we can get 100% cooperation between farmers, governments
and international organizations like the WHO, the prospect of timely containment
of bird flu looks gloomy. IF we do not contain the outbreak we may see
the flu mutate into a human-to-human sustained transmission influenza.
- There are things US coporations can do to help mitigate
economic hardship. Companies can plan for some employees to work from
home using computer networks and phones. Companies may even want to stagger
business hours helping to reduce the crowding of people in offices.
- Workers can also use some "common sense" methods
to try to stay flu-free. Keeping a spray bottle of chlorox for use on
phones, keyboards etc. People may choose to use surgical gloves when touching
communal areas like door knobs and elevator buttons. Frequent hand washing
also important as well as normal "etiquette" of using a tissue
when sneezing, using a tissue when coughing, etc, etc.
- A little planning now by Corporations might just lessen
the economic fallout of influenza.
- Patricia A. Doyle, DVM, PhD- Bus Admin, Tropical Agricultural
- Please visit my "Emerging Diseases" message
- Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa
- Go with God and in Good Health