It's not often that you construct a warehouse and hope to never use it. But that has to be the case in Thailand, where the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has opened a regional distribution center stocked with supplies to fight off a potential outbreak of avian influenza. The roughly 60,000-square-foot facility will house enough protective equipment to serve tens of thousands of people in the event of a flu outbreak in Southeast Asia.
The DC will stockpile some 45,000 protective suits, 400 decontamination kits, 10 laboratory specimen kits, and other equipment. It is the first of three DCs planned around the globe, and it will assure a quick response to any outbreaks of the deadly H5N1 virus, commonly called "bird flu" because it's most frequently found in poultry.
Flu pandemics routinely occur about every 35 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control. However, with today's rapid transportation, a pandemic would spread faster than ever before and could result in up to 40 million deaths, according to the United Nations World Health Organization.