It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
Airlines to target avian flu: Quarantining seen as key to strategy
WASHINGTON -- US airlines could be on the front lines in a bird flu outbreak and federal health officials are streamlining procedures for the possible quarantine of sick passengers.
But some airline workers and health specialists see shortfalls in plans and recommend additional steps they say could save lives and help a financially fragile industry avoid a potential nightmare.
The Bush administration hopes that quick action can contain any US outbreak; the administration has not ruled out travel restrictions. Federal health officials have the authority to detain or isolate any airline passenger suspected of harboring the avian flu virus, which scientists fear could mutate to leap from person to person and quickly spread globally.
Air travel was crucial in spreading the deadly severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, virus around Asia and to Canada in 2003. SARS killed 800 people globally before it was contained.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has increased the number of quarantine centers at major airports and land crossings from eight in 2003 to 18 now, partly due to the bird flu threat.
There are plans to expand to 25 centers, depending on resources and need, said Ram Koppaka, chief of the CDC's quarantine and border health division...
The Professional Flight Attendants Association at Northwest Airlines (NWACQ.PK: Quote, Profile, Research) wants lawmakers to mandate that carriers keep planes properly ventilated on the ground and provide early access to antiviral drugs or a bird flu vaccine -- if health authorities turn to either.
Bankrupt Northwest, a big U.S. carrier to Asia, referred questions on its plans to the Air Transport Association.
British entrepreneur Richard Branson has purchased 10,000 doses of the antiviral Tamiflu in Canada for airline employees at Virgin Group Ltd. (VA.UL: Quote, Profile, Research) in an attempt to protect them from bird flu.
Global cargo giant FedEx Corp (FDX.N: Quote, Profile, Research) is also "in the process" of buying a "small reserve" of the drug in the United States to distribute to workers if an outbreak occurs and only under strict circumstances, a company spokeswoman said.
No. 2 United Airlines (UALAQ.OB: Quote, Profile, Research), which also flies to Asia and plans more international service after bankruptcy, has no plans to stockpile antiviral medication, said Dr. Gary Kohn, the carrier's medical director.
Our government did not have the foresight to order more than 2 million doses of Tamiflu from Roche pharmaceutical company in Europe. Keep in mind that there are almost 300 million Americans. Other countries such as France, the Netherlands, Norway and New Zealand have announced that they have stockpiled enough Tamiflu to treat up to 50% of their population. According to Roche officials, an order for Tamiflu today will not be delivered for at least one year.
Roche has halted shipments to wholesalers and pharmacies in the United States in an attempt to stop the hoarding of Tamiflu that has become rampant all across this country. Companies, as well as individuals, are buying up what little Tamiflu there is in this country, leaving many who will need it this year for non-avian influenza without necessary medication.