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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 1, 2005

Fact Sheet: Safeguarding America Against Pandemic Influenza

Today's Presidential Action

Today, President Bush Outlined The National Strategy To Safeguard Against The Danger Of Pandemic Influenza. The President discussed the characteristics of the Avian and Pandemic Influenza threat and the Nation's strategy to detect outbreaks, expand domestic vaccine production capacity, stockpile treatments, prepare to respond to a pandemic, and ensure the health and safety of all Americans.

The Avian And Pandemic Influenza Threat

Pandemic Influenza Poses A Greater Danger Than Seasonal Flu. Most Americans are familiar with influenza or the "flu" a respiratory illness that makes hundreds of thousands of people sick every year. For most healthy people, the flu is not usually life-threatening. Pandemic influenza is another matter. It occurs when a new strain of influenza emerges that can be transmitted easily from person to person and for which people have no immunity. Unlike seasonal flu, it can kill the young and healthy as well as the frail and sick.

The Federal Government Is Concerned About A New Influenza Virus Known As H5N1 Or Avian Flu. Now spreading through bird populations across Asia and recently reaching into Europe, this new influenza strain has infected domesticated birds like ducks and chickens and long-range migratory birds. In 1997, the first recorded outbreak among people took place in Hong Kong. Avian flu struck again in late 2003 and has infected over 120 people in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Indonesia and killed more than 60 a 50 percent mortality rate. As of now, avian flu is primarily an animal disease and unless people come into direct, sustained contact with infected birds, it is unlikely they will contract the disease.

The President Outlines The National Strategy For Pandemic Influenza

The National Strategy Outlines The Coordinated Federal Government Efforts To Prevent And Prepare For Avian And Pandemic Flu. Several months ago, the President directed all relevant Federal departments and agencies to take steps to address the threat of avian and pandemic flu. Drawing on the combined efforts of government officials and the public health, medical, veterinary, and law enforcement communities, as well as the private sector, this strategy is designed to meet three critical goals: detecting human or animal outbreaks that occur anywhere in the world; protecting the American people by stockpiling vaccines and antiviral drugs while improving the capacity to produce new vaccines; and preparing to respond at the Federal, state, and local levels in the event an avian or pandemic influenza reaches the United States.

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