No one to care for millions of Americans if bird flu pandemic strikes

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bird flu(NewsTarget) While the deadly H5N1 strain of the bird flu has not yet mutated into a form easily transmittable between humans, a Harvard School of Public Health poll conducted Thursday suggests that many Americans would be left without anyone to care for them if it did.

About 24 percent of the nearly 1,700 Americans polled from Sept. 28 to Oct. 5 said they would not have anyone to take care of them if they were sick at home for seven to 10 days; 45 percent of respondents living alone said they would have no one to care for them if stricken with the disease; and 34 percent of black adults said the same thing.

The poll -- which had a 2.4 percent margin of error -- also found that a financial toll could be predicted in the case of a bird flu pandemic, with 25 percent of employed respondents saying they would face serious financial consequences for missing seven to 10 days of work due to bird flu, and 57 percent saying they would be in financial trouble if they had to miss a month due to the illness.

"These findings are a wake-up call for business, that employees have serious financial concerns and are unclear about the workplace plans and policies for dealing with pandemic flu," stated professor Robert Blendon in the study.

On the other hand, the study did find that a majority of Americans would follow public health guidelines and make major changes to how they lived during a pandemic. Ninety percent said they would obey public health advice to stay in within their town or city limits, and more than 75 percent said they would be willing to avoid places like malls, busses and churches for a month.

So far, the H5N1 strain of bird flu has infected 256 people and killed 151, mainly in Asia.

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