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Greetings, and welcome to the Avian Influenza discussion board. I asked the Fool to create this new board, so that there could be one place in Fooldom where folks can come to discuss how to prepare for and survive the global pandemic that may be approaching.

We need a place like this board because no vaccine for avian influenza is on the horizon, and worldwide stocks of Tamiflu are grossly inadequate. Therefore, all families will have to fight this deadly disease the old-fashioned way: face masks, painstaking hygiene, isolation, quarantines, etc. This is how people coped before modern medicine, that is how we shall have to cope this time. Even the most optimistic estimates suggest that millions will die, and those who survive will have gone through hell. I am hoping that this board can become a place where Fools from all over the world can learn from each other, sustain each other, and save lives.

This is not a good place for idle chitchat. It is my hope and intention that this board have a very high signal-to-noise ratio. Let us concentrate on facts and opinions, expressed in a bare minimum of posts, so that latecomers can read the entire board easily.

To do this right, we need participation by doctors and nurses, police and military, clergy and therapists, and good people of common sense and practicality. The problems are many, and the world has not faced a situation like this since the great influenza epidemic of 1918.

In my work for the US military, I have written several computer simulations of great epidemics. These simulations start from a different premise, namely bioterrorism, but the end results are the same: millions of dead, economies and societies in ruin, broken families and wrecked political systems as far as the eye can see.

We don't have to suffer this fate! If we educate each other in preventive techniques, in how to care for the sick without becoming infected, in how and when to evacuate (or not), in how to create a workable family emergency plan, then we will prevail.

As I write this, from an airport lounge in Denver, I am on my way abroad for a series of consulting missions that will occupy the next five weeks. I will not be able to give this board the attention it deserves, but I will do my best to get the discussion rolling, and to contribute whenever possible.

Loren Cobb
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