Avian Flu: How Scared Should We Be?

Scared enough to take action. Haunted by Katrina, Washington scrambles to prepare for a much deadlier kind of natural disaster

For the past two years, scientists, public-health officials and even a high-ranking government official or two have warned about the potential danger of a deadly worldwide outbreak, or pandemic, of avian flu. But it took a couple of furies named Katrina and Rita to really bring home how much can go wrong if you don't plan for major emergencies.

Suddenly old warnings about flu, which had seemed so remote, were sounding a lot scarier. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared in September, once again, that as far as an influenza pandemic is concerned, the question is not if but when, not...

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