British report says the U.K. is preparing 'mass graves' for humans if Bird Flu mutates

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Human Disease from Influenza A (H5N1), Thailand, 2004

Sunday, April 2, 2006

A report titled: Managing Excess Deaths in an Influenza Pandemic dated March 22, 2006, leaked from the Home Office in the United Kingdom states that the U.K. is preparing 'mass graves' in the event that the Avian Flu [Bird Flu] mutates. It also states that, "there are likely to be substantially more deaths than can be managed within current timescales." and that as many as 320,000 people could die if the virus mutates.

"Common [mass] burial stirs up images of the burial pits used in the great plague of 1665 — where in London 70,000 people died," the report added. It suggests that ways can be found for large-scale burial to provide recognizable individual gravesites in order to counter this association.

"Prudent precautionary planning is under way across all elements of the response, including the health service, other essential services and local authorities," said a Home Office spokesman. However; at the moment, the virus only infects humans who have been in close or direct contact with infected poultry. The U.K. also reports that it has stockpiled at least 14.6 million doses of anti-viral medication.

The report cautions that vaccines against the virus "will not be available in the first wave of a pandemic" and that the vaccines would not be a "silver bullet." It also states that the local officials are prepared to handle only 48,000 deaths in Wales and in England for a pandemic lasting 15 weeks, however; the reports states further that, "even with ramping local management capacity by 100%, the prudent worst case of 320,000 deaths is projected to lead to a delay of some 17 weeks from death to burial or cremation."