Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, December 6, 2005

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Avian Flu: Addressing the Global Threat
Hyde Schedules Wednesday Oversight Hearing

BACKGROUND:  Since its emergence in Hong Kong in 1997, the newest strain of avian flu, H5N1, has spread to 15 countries in Asia and Europe. Although this particular flu strain is not yet efficiently transmitted from person to person, it has shown itself to be highly lethal, with 68 out of the 133 people infected in the past two years having died. The lethality, coupled with H5N1ís proclivity towards infecting younger segments of the population, has begun to remind health officials of the deadly 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. While it is common for flu strains to emerge and ebb, causing minor pandemics (with milder strains of the virus) to occur several times during each century, the World Health Organization (WHO) is emphasizing the strong likelihood of a major flu pandemic to occur in the near future. In November 2005, President Bush submitted an emergency $7.1 billion FY2006 supplemental request to Congress as part of a response to the avian flu threat. While a vaccine to prevent the spread of a pandemic flu cannot be produced until the particular strain is in circulation (human-to-human transmission), the Bush plan calls for a comprehensive counter-flu strategy including:  avian influenza surveillance; developing and training rapid response teams; increased aid to WHO; and domestic farming policies geared at training and providing assistance to reduce the risk of H5N1 transmission. 

WHAT:                             Full Committee Oversight Hearing:
                                          Avian Flu: Addressing the Global Threat

                                          U.S. Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-IL), Chairman

WHEN:                            10:30 a.m., Wednesday, December 7, 2005

WHERE:                           Room 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

WITNESSES:                   Panel I:

                                           Anthony F. Rock,
                                           Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs,
                                           U.S. Department of State;

                                           Kent R. Hill, Ph.D.,
                                           Assistant Administrator for Global Health,
                                           U.S. Agency for International Development;

                                           Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.,
                                           Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease,
                                           National Institutes for Health;

                                           Anne Schuchat, M.D.,
                                           Acting Director, National Center for Infectious Disease,
                                           Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;

                                           Panel II:

                                           Margaret Chan, M.D.,
                                           Representative of the Director-General for Pandemic Influenza,
                                           World Health Organization; and

                                           Michael T. Osterholm, M.D.,
                                           Director, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy.

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