Iowa’s governor has met with the head of the state’s Department of Public Health about the “bird flu” which has now been found in far eastern Europe. About 60 people in Southeast Asia have died from the deadly strain of the flu, which spreads from birds to humans. Governor Tom Vilsack met with his public health director two weeks ago to discuss the situation.
Vilsack says the bird flu is only spreading from bird to bird, or bird to human right now. Once this flu strain “figures out” how to spread from human to human, Vilsack says the risk will become “substantially higher.”
Vilsack says there’s time to plan and structure a response should it hit Iowa. “We are aggressively pursuing strategies,” Vilsack says.
For example, state officials are seeking stockpiles of vaccines, and making plans to quarantine those who come down with the illness if and when it may reach Iowa. Birds are being slaughtered in areas of Turkey and Romania where bird flu has been detected. If a human form of the disease develops, it will take up to six months to develop a vaccine, and world health officials warn of millions of deaths that would occur before researchers could develop a bird flu shot.