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2004

News
  1. 02-06-04 Flu Research Breakthrough (CBS News)
      "The 1918 flu that killed 20 million people appears to be more birdlike than previously thought, according to findings by U.S. and British researchers that could help explain why it was the deadliest influenza strain ever recorded."

      "The research, conducted separately by scientists at the Scripps Institute in La Jolla, Calif., and at Britain's Medical Research Council, used lung samples preserved from victims of the 1918 flu to reconstruct a protein crucial to their infection."

      " 'These were not little steps but big strides toward understanding, at the structural and molecular level, what it is about these strains that make them dangerous,' said Dr. Gregory Poland, a flu specialist at the Mayo Clinic who reviewed the research."

      "Different influenza strains spread around the world annually. Every so often a strain tough enough to kill millions emerges, and experts believe the world is overdue for another pandemic. Unraveling what made the 1918 flu so vicious could help doctors better react if a similar strain returns."

      "Asia's current bird flu, a strain known as H5N1, clearly can jump directly from poultry to people - at least 16 people have died of it this winter. Most cases have been traced directly to contact with sick birds, although human-to-human transmission has not been ruled out in one instance." 2-04

  2. Flu Supplies Fragile (Bloomberg.com)
      "In May 2001, the GAO warned that manufacturing difficulties that delayed vaccine shipments up to eight weeks during the 2000- 2001 flu season 'illustrate the fragility of the system to produce a new flu vaccine each year on a timely basis.'' The government also lacked a system 'to ensure that high-risk people have priority when the supply of vaccine is short.' "

      "Janet Heinrich, the GAO's director for health-care and public health issues, repeated that warning Sept. 28 in testimony delivered to Congress. She also said that the Health and Human Services Department's plan for dealing with a possible flu outbreak 'leaves many important decisions about the purchase, distribution and administration of vaccines unresolved.' " 10-04

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