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April 12, 2006

Potential costs of a pandemic

N.C. State University economist Mike Walden says that a widespread outbreak of avian influence, or bird flu, could have a “massive” effect on the U.S. economy.

“The Congressional Budget Office looked at two scenarios: They looked at a mild outbreak, which they said would affect 75 million people and cause 100,000 deaths in the U.S.,” Dr. Walden says. “And it would have a negative impact on the economy of $180 billion.

“They also looked at a severe outbreak: They said that would affect 90 million people, cause 2 million deaths and cost the economy $600 billion.

“Now there’s some difference in terms of what sectors most affected: Anything where there’s a large human contact like the entertainment business, the food service business, the travel business -- they would be the most adversely affected. In fact, the CBO says their business would go down by perhaps as much as 80 percent.

“So we are not talking about something that would be very mild here. We are talking about a major, major impact on the economy.”

Posted by deeshore at April 12, 2006 08:00 AM