Flu Pandemic Could Kill 500,000, Hospitalize 2M in United States, Report Says
A moderately severe strain of pandemic flu could kill more than 500,000 people in the United States and hospitalize more than 2.3 million, according to a report released on Friday by the Trust for America's Health, Reuters/Orlando Sentinel reports. Pandemic flu would infect more than 25% of the U.S. population, the report predicts (Reuters/Orlando Sentinel, 6/25). In addition, the report said:
- The United States currently has 2.3 million doses of flu vaccine stockpiled, with an additional three million doses of antiviral medications likely to become available by 2006;
- The United States currently has about 965,256 staffed hospital beds;
- U.S. officials have not adequately planned for the effects that pandemic flu could have on the economy, daily life, food and supply distribution and homeland security; and
- The United States has made fewer preparations for pandemic flu than Britain and Canada.
Meanwhile, an international team of virologists and epidemiologists has traveled to Vietnam to study whether H5N1 avian flu strain could mutate into a "form that might trigger a human pandemic," the World Health Organization said on Friday, Reuters/Washington Post reports.
According to a WHO statement, the team will study "the possibility of more widespread H5N1 human transmission, changes in the H5N1 virus and the likelihood of increased human-to-human transmission." In the statement, Hans Troedsson, a WHO representative in Vietnam, said, "What has happened in Vietnam may have public health implications for the entire world and will be crucial in preparing for a possible pandemic" (Reuters/Washington Post, 6/25).