Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"One Day There Will Be A Bird Flu Pandemic" Says Australian Health Minister

Australian Health Minister Tony Abbott has refused to release the national stockpile of the anti-viral Tamiflu to deal with an epidemic of Influenza which has killed more than 160 people in the past two months alone, including six children.

From :

"One day there will be a flu pandemic – that is almost certain," (Mr Abbott) said to ABC Radio today.

"But we don't know when, we don't know where and we don't know if the current strain of bird flu is going to be the foundation for the next pandemic."

But Mr Abbott said despite the bird flu deaths of two Indonesians on Bali this week, the deadly virus remained difficult for humans to contract.

"There is no evidence as yet of efficient human to human transmission, so what we have at the moment is a disease of birds," he said.

Stockpiles of the flu treatment Tamiflu should not be released unless there was a national emergency, Mr Abbott said.

"The Tamiflu stockpile is out first line of defence against a possible bird flu pandemic and serious though this flu season is, it would be a mere blip if we actually had a bird flu pandemic."

Mr Abbott claimed that there had been only "one or two" deaths related to human to human transmission of the H5N1 virus. However, at least five members of the same family died from the virus, including a four year old boy, in Indonesia in 2006.

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