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Prevention is better than a cure

HUDDERSFIELD, West Yorkshire, England -- In response to the Japanese farm ministry, which has confirmed a "highly pathogenic" case of avian flu at a farm in Shinmane Prefecture (Dec. 2, www.agweek.com), this is highly relevant information for the...

HUDDERSFIELD, West Yorkshire, England -- In response to the Japanese farm ministry, which has confirmed a "highly pathogenic" case of avian flu at a farm in Shinmane Prefecture (Dec. 2, www.agweek.com ), this is highly relevant information for the poultry industry and its survival when a human-human killer virus revisits us in the future.

We never will defeat human-to-human killer viruses unless we start to adopt the old premise that "prevention is better than cure."

There are many things that state this claim, but the most profound is that we never shall receive a saving vaccine in time.

This can be seen from the experience of the global swine flu pandemic last year that officially took nearly 20,000 lives. )Unofficially, it is estimated that the death toll was much higher.)

From initial detection of the human killer virus, only after seven months was a vaccine created in the U.S. Another month and the FDA approved it for use.

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After 13 months, only 23 percent of the American people had received the vaccine.

Historical facts

Looking back at history, the Spanish Flu -- a swine flu/avian flu variant -- of 1918 and 1919 did its worst between week 16 and week 26, killing up to 100 million worldwide. There is no authoritive count because of inferior statistics gathering in those years, but it is thought that up to this number were killed in the most harrowing and agonizing way.

Therefore, we could l be well dead by the time we receive any vaccine, as only after eight months will a vaccine be ready -- not counting manufacture and distribution, a logistical nightmare considering the world's population -- and where the Spanish Flu had done its worst after a mere six months from detection.

Prevention is critical

Prevention and addressing the human killer virus at its source is our only solution to stop the unimaginable from happening sometime in the future.

Dr. Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization, says it is only a matter of time, not when.

An outbreak has the potential to take more than 300 million lives and probably more. This will affect all families and relationships throughout the world. No family or relationship will be immune to its devastating effects.

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Stopped at the source

Using this "source" strategy, the killer human-to-human virus was stopped in Hong Kong in 1997 using this premise, preventing the deaths of millions, but because of the powerful drug companies, it has not been adopted since, as there are no multibillions in sales in field work and addressing the killer virus at source.

Unfortunately, the "profit above human life condition," accepted by governments throughout the world, eventually will prove to be the undoing of humankind and global business through the devastation that such a global pandemic eventually will bring.

The greatest harm inflicted on corporations will be multitrillion-dollar losses and make the financial meltdown like a storm in a teacup.

That source strategy that worked in Hong Kong without drugs -- the foolish thinking at the moment that we allow it to happen and then we "try" to cure it -- is seen at http://avian-influenza.cirad.fr/content/download/1931/11789/file/Kennedy-F-Shortridge.pdf .

Editor's Note: Hill is executive director of the World Innovation Foundation Charity of Bern, Switzerland.

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