U.S. Starts Planning To Fight Bird Flu 
10/19/2005 5:13:18 PM

The United States is finally awakening to the threat of avian influenza. After a closed-door briefing last week, fear of an outbreak swept official Washington, which was still reeling from the poor response to Hurricane Katrina. The day after the briefing, led by Michael Leavitt, secretary of health and human services, and other senior government health officials, the Senate squeezed $3.9 billion for flu preparations into a Pentagon appropriations bill. Senate Democrats said they would introduce another bill calling for the creation of a flu pandemic coordinator within the White House and a federal buyback program for unused flu vaccines, among other measures, according to a draft of the bill. Its authors include Senators Harry Reid of Nevada, Barack Obama of Illinois and Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts.