Thursday, October 18, 2007

Summit on Business Preparedness for Pandemic Influenza

This speech, given by WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, was delivered February 5, 2007 at CIDRAP's Summit on Business Preparedness for Pandemic Influenza in Orlando, FL. It remains an up-to-date statement which addresses two main issues: "the assessment of threat as perceived by staff and experts at WHO, and a description of what might occur during the first influenza pandemic of the 21st century."
In assessing the pandemic, the Director-General said "H5N1 has been circulating in poultry in Asia since at least mid-2003. It has caused the largest outbreaks in birds and the highest number of human cases on record for any avian influenza virus. Over the years the virus has lost none of its persistence in nature and non of its virulence for humans. Experts concluded that the threat is not likely to diminish in the near future and that the virus has evolved in alarming ways in domestic poultry, migratory birds, and humans in the past four years. Also, H5N1 survives longer in the environment and at higher temperatures, and are more lethal to chickens. Yet another alarming development is that we've lost one of our warning signs to the virus. Domestic ducks can now become infected and excrete large quantities of lethal virus, yet show no signs of illness. "
In her description of what we might expect to see during a pandemic, Dr. Chan said the following: "all countries will be affected, international spread will be rapid, widespread illness will occur, excess mortality will occur, medical supplies will be inadequate, hospital capacity will be inadequate, and economic and social disruption will occur."

For the full presentation, please visit:

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