Discovery Guides Areas


Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)
(Released July 2007)

  by Sujata Suri  


Key Citations



What is the Government doing?


Governments over the Globe need to cooperate and develop detection systems and control measures to prevent the spread of AI and other potential pandemics. Many important steps have already begun, but an even more extensive response is needed.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has a network of around 110 Influenza centers worldwide that regularly submit new influenza isolates to the four WHO collaborating centers (US, Australia, Japan, and UK). Their aim is to detect new and potentially dangerous strains of influenza at the earliest moment so that control measures can be enacted in the event of a pandemic.

flock of chickens
Poultry must be watched closely for avian influenza
On February 1, 2007, U.S. health officials announced an early-warning system similar to that for hurricanes to protect the country against the avian influenza pandemic. The community-based response system will categorize flu pandemics by using a "Pandemic Severity Index" (PSI) on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the deadliest. Each PSI level will carry a set of recommendations, ranging from hand washing to closing schools, which are intended to slow the spread of the virus while a vaccine is being prepared.

A viral strain/infection that does not move rapidly from person to person would likely cause a fairly mild pandemic. On the other hand, a strain that not only moved with extraordinary speed but also had an unusually high mortality rate would be categorized as a category 5 (

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on June 13, 2007 hosted The Pandemic Influenza Leadership Forum to help Americans become more prepared for an influenza pandemic. This forum, sponsored by HHS, encouraged people to prepare for a possible pandemic and provided the public with the essential steps for personal pandemic flu preparedness, including:

  • Communicate to your community that it is critical for everyone to prepare for possible pandemic flu.
  • Use tools and ideas provided by HHS to help reach your audience.
  • Encourage people to: (1) Store extra food and other daily supplies to make it easier to stay home for a prolonged period of time; (2) Learn and practice proper hand washing; (3) Use safe cough and sneeze techniques to limit the spread of illnesses; and (4) Stay home and avoid others if you are sick.(

"Preparing for an influenza pandemic is a shared responsibility," HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said. "By preparing now, individuals will be better able to deal with a pandemic, slow the spread of illness, and lessen the overall impact to themselves and to society."

Very special thanks to Deborah Whitman for all of her help with this Discovery Guide

© 2007, ProQuest CSA LLC. All rights reserved.

List of Visuals


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