Cause for Alarm: Are We Overlooking the Severity of the Avian Flu?

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News stories around the world are calling attention to the arrival of the unavoidable infectious spread of an avian flu virus. Now even government leaders are speaking out and urging the nation to take aggressive measures to combat the devastating effects of an impending avian flu pandemic. The IAMC is currently in talks with state and federal officials to outline a comprehensive compliance method to ensure complete preparedness in the event of an outbreak.

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I’d rather people get a little alarmed now and at least be prepared than have to suffer the consequences in the future.

“Think of a fast-moving, highly contagious disease that wipes out 50 million people… the killer pandemic claims more victims in 24 weeks than HIV-AIDS claimed in 24 years. In the United States… bodies pile up in the streets… normal life stops. Communications and transportation grind to a halt. The public succumbs to hysteria and panic. Police protection fails. Order decays. Productivity dies.”

Sound like the opening of a bad science fiction book? In actuality, this was taken from a speech given by US Senate majority leader Bill Frist last month. Is Senator Frist being alarmist or is this high-profile government leader simply acknowledging a truth and reality that many continue to impractically and over-optimistically ignore? Though Frist paints a horrifying picture, it could soon be the future of the US, and it is a true picture of 1918’s global disaster known as the Spanish Influenza. The International Association of Medicinal Compliance (http://www.takeyourmedicine.org) feels that a neglectful mentality that overlooks the threat of an avian flu pandemic could ultimately result in a landslide of detrimental consequences for the nation.

This non-profit organization dedicated to promoting better health through increased medicinal compliance, is currently working with state and federal government officials to outline a plan that covers a compliance method for the US. The IAMC does not see the rationale in hesitation, and their efforts force an immediate acknowledgement of the severity and seriousness of this imminent pandemic.

Gunjan Koul, Director of the IAMC, states “I’d rather people get a little alarmed now and at least be prepared than have to suffer the consequences in the future.” Because medicinal compliance continues to persist as a major issue among children, the IAMC’s current concern lies in health protection for the young. Studies show that of the 97 people who have died from the avian flu, only 6 were over the age of 40, with 19 as the median age and 25% of victims under the age of 12. Though health experts have yet to conclude ‘how’ and ‘whom’ the avian flu strikes, the bottom line is that children, teenagers and young adults have been the most frequent and unfortunate victims of this viral spread.

A recent influenza study showed that about 45% of all school-age children can catch influenza during an epidemic, putting them at substantially increased risk for infection and more likely to spread disease. As such a high-risk group, children need to be protected and compliance ensured. The nation must derive a plan that prioritizes antiviral medications and vaccines to children, and procure the necessary supplies to ensure that they take them properly. Only when a medication is taken properly will it be successful. While Frist’s picture sounds akin to a science fiction movie, the reality is that without the necessary preparation and information supplied to the public, uncontrollable infectious spread of the H5N1 virus could result in a situation that closely matches Frist’s image.

As the IAMC continues to work with government officials, the organization sees an increasing urgency to persuade the nation to derive a comprehensive pandemic preparedness plan. The IAMC proposes a compliance plan to successfully acquire and utilize critical supplies and medications. In order to address the issue of compliance in children, taste must be addressed. Many children are unable to take medications due to unpalatable taste or unpleasant smell, especially in the case of bitter medications such as Tamiflu®. Administering antiviral medications with a safe and scientifically-tested medicinal flavoring will guarantee that children take their medications without hesitation and for the full regimen, thus controlling the spread of infection.

The US must secure a comprehensive preparedness plan, and secure it now. Canada began to respond to the threat of an avian flu pandemic in 1988, long before even the threat of the avian H5N1 virus arose. In February 2004, the Canadian Pandemic Influenza Plan was released to outline the specific actions to be taken by various levels of the government to ensure a coordinated national response and protect the lives of as many citizens as possible. It outlines measures to curb an infectious disease outbreak through vaccine and antiviral strategies, surveillance, communication and emergency response. Canadian officials are currently in discussion to include the procurement of medicinal flavorings in their pandemic plan.

The IAMC strongly urges Americans to reach out to state and federal government officials to demand a comprehensive emergency pandemic plan. This plan should cover the compliance method for critical supplies and methods for national stockpiling, which includes the necessity of medicinal flavorings for children. To be heard, sign this Avian Flu Petition: http://www.ipetitions.com/campaigns/avianflu/

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