Sunday, April 20, 2008

Let's get with the program:

The New York Times, writing about this year's (largely unsuccessful) flu virus, writes:
In research that could improve the likelihood of picking the right strains, an international team led by British scientists has documented — through molecular and genetic analysis — how seasonal flu strains evolve and sweep around the world. It turns out that new flu strains emerge in several countries in East and Southeast Asia, and are then carried by travelers to Europe and North America some six to nine months later. Several months after that they reach South America, where they die out. Then the whole process starts over.

Although scientists knew generally that influenza strains often emerge from in and around China, the new research expands the area that bears watching and surely bolsters the case for greatly enhanced surveillance in Asia.
Hey, instead of "enhanced surveillance", how about telling the Chinese to put a halt to close contact between fowl, swine, and humans? Because that's how these things get started, and it's very common in China. That country should implement measures (like those in Hong Kong markets to avert bird flu) where animals were segregated and in clean facilities. It's not expensive. It requires cement and wire and water. It's on the order of the civil engineering and food handling legislation (of the late 19th and early 20th centuries) that did more to decrease illness and mortality than any drugs.

If China doesn't get with the program, then no more trade, no Olympics, no more making nice. Same for other countries that put traditional ways of farming above reform to prevent disease.


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