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04/28/2009

Swine Flu Provides Dry Run for Preparedness

Swine flu from next door in Mexico reminds us that biological threats are a serious national security issue. National policy over the past several years has focused on bioterrorism, but naturally occurring epidemics can be more serious in terms of lives lost and economic harm. 

Fortunately, swine flu cases outside of Mexico have not been too serious, so far, although public health officials still do not understand why it has been more lethal in Mexico.  However, other threats are still out there. Avian flu could still evolve into a strain that is transmissible between humans, and new diseases similar to SARS could arise. It is essential that the CDC and state health departments be fully staffed and funded to deal with these threats. 

The silver lining for swine flu is that it can serve as a dry run in preparedness to show us how the system is working and what we need to do to be better protected.

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