How Real is the Threat of Pandemic?

Dr. John Cahill explains that our world is becoming increasingly small and easy access air travel and global urbanization has created the possibility for the very real threat of pandemic. The internet has made international travel quick and easy and soon a majority of the global population will live in close quarter urban environments. A good example is SARS, which started in China, made its way to Hong Kong, and spread throughout the world rapidly. More recently, though there have not been a large number of reported cases, Avian Influenza has the potential to be a serious threat to public health. If someone with the common Flu were to meet someone with Avian Influenza, there is a very real possibility that the two could mutate into something very virulent and spread rapidly.

Dr. Cahill believes we're not very well prepared for a pandemic influenza. In the case of such an event, supply would not be able to keep up with demand and we would not be able to administer the vaccine quick enough to protect everyone.

We can actually look at the model from a couple of years ago with the shortage of Flu shots. There was a problem with one of the vaccine manufactureres and no one anticipated a backup plan for meeting flu shot demand.

 Dr. Cahill recommends that we practice dealing with a pandemic or try to vaccinate as many people as possible against the Flu. It's a difficult task to try and vaccinate an entire population, but it's one we should be prepared for in the worst case pandemic scenario.

 Dr. John D. Cahill, M.D. is a physician and medical educator who founded the Center for Global Collaboration & Health Initiatives. While studying abroad in medical school and after his postgraduate medical training at Brown University, Dr. Cahill spent time in Southeast Asia & Africa.


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