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Bird Flu Still a Threat to U. S.

January 4, 2008
by Martha Lynn Craver
Kiplinger

Avian flu is rarely in the headlines, but it remains a serious danger for its potential to trigger a pandemic, according to health officials. The economic impact of a pandemic also would be horrendous. A report by Trust for America's Health says it could result in the second-worst recession in the U.S. since World War II. The U.S. gross domestic product would drop more than 5.5%, leading to an estimated $683-billion loss. Pandemics tend to surface about every 30 years. One of the worst pandemics occurred in 1918, when 500,000 Americans and approximately 50 million people died worldwide. The good news is that U.S. health officials are better prepared than in the past, although much more needs to be done. "We are at a higher level of preparedness because we have had the gift of time," says Jeff Levi, executive director of the Trust for America's Health.

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