segunda-feira, outubro 17, 2005

Gripe das Aves

Um artigo no New England Journal of Medicine, do Director do Centro de Investigação de Doenças Infecciosas, Michael T. Osterholm, que data de Maio de 2005:

Influenza experts recognize the inevitability of another pandemic. When will it begin? Will it be caused by H5N1, the avian influenzavirus strain currently circulating in Asia? Will its effect rival that of 1918 or be more muted, as was the case in the pandemics of 1957 and 1968? Nobody knows.

So how can we prepare? One key step is to rapidly ramp up research related to the production of an effective vaccine, as the Department of Health and Human Services is doing.


Beyond research and development, we need a public health approach that includes far more than drafting of general plans, as several countries and states have done. We need a detailed operational blueprint of the best way to get through 12 to 24 months of a pandemic.

We need to develop a national, and even an international, consensus on the priorities for the use of antiviral drugs well before the pandemic begins.

Today, public health experts and infectious-disease scientists do not know whether H5N1 avian influenzavirus threatens an imminent pandemic. Most indications, however, suggest that it is just a matter of time: witness the increasing number of H5N1 infections in humans and animals, the documentation of additional small clusters of cases suggestive of near misses with respect to sustained human-to-human transmission, the ongoing genetic changes in the H5N1 Z genotype that have increased its pathogenicity, and the existence in Asia of a genetic-reassortment laboratory — the mix of an unprecedented number of people, pigs, and poultry.


Is there anything we can do to avoid this course? The answer is a qualified yes that depends on how everyone, from world leaders to local elected officials, decides to respond. We need bold and timely leadership at the highest levels of the governments in the developed world; these governments must recognize the economic, security, and health threats posed by the next influenza pandemic and invest accordingly. The resources needed must be considered in the light of the eventual costs of failing to invest in such an effort. The loss of human life even in a mild pandemic will be devastating, and the cost of a world economy in shambles for several years can only be imagined.

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