The United States should take the lead in starting discussions toward an international agreement requiring the strictest oversight and highest biosafety level for research on other potentially highly contagious and lethal pathogens.
In spite of our current low risk, it is just a matter of time before H5N1, H7N3 or another influenza strain evolves into a dangerous form that results in a pandemic. And the events in Mexico and Cambodia beg the question: Are we ever going to be safe from bird flu?
You don't need to look far to find real examples of pandemics and their huge tolls. But some of the deadliest diseases wouldn't be considered the least bit exotic by Hollywood screenwriters or even average Angelenos.
So far, only thousands of people have died from swine flu. Unless we radically change the way chickens and pigs are raised for food, though, it may only be a matter of time before a catastrophic pandemic arises.
With the height of the flu season quickly approaching and our children heading back into the classroom, I recently led a full Committee hearing to examine the Obama Administration's Flu Vaccine program.