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Watching for the Next Pandemic

This article is more than 18 years old.
photoThe World Health Organization this week issued a serious alarm that the Asian bird flu outbreak, currently limited primarily to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, poses the "gravest possible danger" of turning into major global pandemic. The avian flu virus has affected poultry in eight Asian countries, and killed 45 people so far.

It may not sound like much, but this new, highly virulent and deadly virus is poised to make the leap from birds to a full-fledged human disease that could burn around the world. It has happened before. In 1918 the great flu pandemic killed some 20 to 50 million people worldwide. Global health officials say that if something isn't done right now, this new avian flu could become a similar killer.

Hear about the new global threat of the avian flu and what the world can and should do to prepare.


Klaus Stohr, project leader for the WHO Global Influenza Programme.;

Michael Specter, reporter-at-large for The New Yorker, wrote the article "Nature's Bioterrorist" about avian flu for this week's issue.;

Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, author of "Living Terrors: What America Needs to Know to Survive the Coming Bioterrorist Catastrophe.";

Laurie Garett, senior fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations.

This program aired on February 24, 2005.


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