The international experts who study how diseases occur believe an epidemic is likely within the next ten years.
The emergence of avian influenza and the implications of the severe acute respiratory syndrome SARS virus have focused international research on finding better ways of fighting global disease. Experts believe that lessons learned now will prove valuable if a more serious epidemic emerges in years to come.
With globalisation and international travel comes an end to geographically confined disease outbreaks. There is a growing concern that the spread of disease will lead to worldwide epidemics and pandemics. The recent avian flu and SARS outbreaks have brought together the international microbiological community in an effort to work together to find solutions to these medical challenges.
Experts in Ireland say that there is no need for the general public to worry about avian flu. However, they do say that,
The almost annual emergence of new viral strains is a cause for concern.
Most experts are in agreement that we will face a viral epidemic within the next ten years. Professor William Powderly, Dean of the School of Medicine at University College Dublin, says that the problem is predicting when this epidemic will happen. He believes the occurrence of SARS has helped the medical world to prepare for an epidemic and hopes that there is sufficient time to prepare for this eventuality through the development of anti-viral drugs and vaccines.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 9 January 2006. The reporter is Peter Leonard.