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Getting Prepared For a Disease That Will Never Come

Despite decisions by a number of states to cap their spending on avian flu drugs, hundreds of hospitals in the United States have been equipped with a medical database to help them identify a disease it's likely they haven't seen before, or ever will.

Designers of the Visual DX software system, used in some 350 hospitals in America, a handful of other countries and various health departments, recently added an Acute Pulmonary Infections program intended to help medical professionals identify and differentiate between 40 infectious diseases ranging from a typical case of the flu to the dreaded -- and so far imaginary -- bird flu epidemic.

The system was initially created by dermatologists five years ago to help emergency room physicians make medical diagnoses on the run for rashes and fevers caused by allergic reactions or bug bites. More recently, the program has been beefed up to include information about oral diseases, chemical and radiation injuries, bioterrorism and, now, the so far non-existent avian flu.

Using a medical database as a guide for more information about a disease is one thing, but using it to diagnose patients is quite another. And besides, would you want to put your health in the hands of a fatally flawed, mistake-prone system anyway?

Just a reminder, your best defense against the flu is to treat it safely and naturally without resorting to a dangerous, useless vaccine.

USA Today August 8, 2006

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