bird flu, avian flu, pandemic

Experts Fear Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America

A made for tv film about a bird flu pandemic that will air on television on Tuesday has experts worried that it may panic some people and convince others that legitimate bird flu warnings are mere hype.

But the same bird flu experts are taking advantage of publicity surrounding the television movie to stress what they see as the need for individuals, businesses and local officials to do what they can to prepare for the avian flu.

The Health and Human Services Department issued “talking points” to staff who may get questions about the bird flu pandemic movie, Pennsylvania is rolling out a new bird flu preparation web site and telephone line to coincide with the release, and the Trust for America’s Health held a briefing to try to sort fact from fiction.

Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America” features scenes with actors wearing spacesuit-like protective gear, a terrified populace and an ending scene in which most residents of an African village lie dead.

“I am not happy,” said Mike Osterholm, a University of Minnesota public health expert who has been warning about and consulting on the threat of an influenza pandemic.

“I worry that this could very well be portrayed by many as ultimate example of sensationalism,” Osterholm told reporters in a telephone briefing on Monday.

The H5N1 avian flu virus has been found in birds in more than 48 countries. It has killed 115 people out of 207 sick enough to be treated at hospitals.
Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America

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