Saturday, October 15, 2005


Letter (see Thursday 13th, 2 blogs ago) got in to the Independent. Now trying to place this longer article in one of the broadsheets - not that they are broadsheets any more.

So: for the flu - stay home if you are ill. And ask the Government to implement the following measures:

Meeting the Threat of Transmissible Viral Disease: Air Transport Reforms

If the avian flu virus gains the capacity to pass from human to human, the world would face a threat of the magnitude of the 1918 flu epidemic that killed more than 20 million people. Vaccination and anti-viral medication will protect some, but the first line of defence, and the most cost-effective, is isolation of cases and quarantine of contacts.

The WHO successfully contained the SARS virus in 2003 using these techniques. They will need to be reviewed, amplified and extended if we are to contain an influenza-type virus. Some might even argue that it would be impossible to do, and therefore should not be attempted. Nevertheless, some measures might lessen the prevalence.

If an outbreak occurs, air passengers from the infected area should be monitored. Infra red detectors to pick out people with raised core temperatures at airports have a place, but are imperfect since a person who is incubating the virus may be shedding it, but may not have a raised temperature. On the other hand, it would be feasible to change airliner cabin air filters at the end of each leg of the flight. PCR tests could identify aircraft with cabin air carrying the virus within hours. Passengers and crew from an infected flight would have to be quarantined.

In addition, hygiene standards in aircraft toilets should be vastly improved.

I would be very grateful if you would ask the Minister of Health to evaluate this proposal.

(copy, past, add your name here and send to your democratic representative.)

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