In addition to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, other national governments have developed action plans for responding to the threat posed by the next global influenza pandemic. For example, Canada's plan is overviewed here and presented here.
In addition to detection and treatment options, the Canadian plan also includes a section deal with mass fatalities [in PDF format]. Such contingency planning is both prudent and responsible. That the Canadian government has published the plan including provisions for worst case situations is both noteworthy and laudatory. Frank communications build trust between governments and citizens.
This article published by Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC News) is also informative.
Experts agree that another pandemic is inevitable and possibly imminent.
The WHO is paying particular attention to H5N1 for several reasons:
- It mutates rapidly and now has a history of being able to acquire genes from viruses infecting other animal species.
- It has caused severe disease in humans.
- Laboratory studies have demonstrated that isolates from this virus have a high pathogenicity and can cause severe disease in humans.
- Birds that survive infection excrete virus for at least 10 days making it easier to spread the virus at live poultry markets and by migratory birds.