Pandemic Virus “Hunting”

The message below is from Charlene Denys (EPA Region 5 Water Security Program Manager).

The November 7 issue of Time Magazine has an article entitled “Virus Hunter” about efforts to identify animal viruses that could cause a human pandemic.  There is also an article by Dr. Oz, MD, on “When Panic Goes Viral” immediately following the Virus Hunter article.  Editor’s Note:  The articles are available (by subscription) from the Time Magazine website at http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2097962,00.html

Both articles are enlightening (and worrisome) and are helpful to remind us all that complacency regarding pandemics is a potentially big and deadly mistake.  Dr. Oz says, “I believe we will see in our life-time a pandemic on a global scale similar to the Spanish-influenza outbreak.”  That 1918 outbreak killed 50,000,000 people world-wide.

I recommend that you get access to the articles, and keep a copy to help inform others who may tend to forget about the threats of pandemics, and the need to prepare for them.  We’ll [EPA Region 5 and other Regions involved in water security efforts] be working with you to revise state pandemic plans so that water and waste water essential personnel will be on the priority list for vaccinations and prophylactic medications, and utilities will be on the priority list for essential chemical deliveries, to help support the response to a pandemic.  Medical responses will not be successful in the absence of safe drinking water, and waste water services; we will need to collaborate with state Departments of Health on the state pandemic plan revisions.

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