Bird Flu: Facts and Fears

The cross-platform networks of NBC News examine
Avian flu in special report on April 21-23

NBC News
Updated: 2:24 p.m. ET April 18, 2006

NBC News will take an unprecedented look at the Avian flu: its myths, its realities, and its potential threat to the country and the world? in a division wide series, kicking off with the "Today" show on Friday, April 21 and culminating in an hour-long look on "Dateline" on Sunday, April 23.

Beginning on "Today," on Friday, April 21, Katie Couric and Matt Lauer will have an in-depth look at what the government's response plan will be if bird flu indeed hits, how will it affect building closures, airports and major city centers.

That evening, on "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams," correspondent Tom Costello reports from Seattle, the city experts say could be one of the first places in the continental U.S. to see positive tests in birds. Coverage will include how Seattle is preparing for a possible outbreak, and what concerns, if any, it has about the Federal government's level of preparedness. Additional interviews will include Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt, who will discuss the Federal government's plan, and a conversation with Jeff Levi, who is with Trust for America's Health, and a critic of U.S. bird flu preparedness. Ann Curry will also appear on "Nightly News" to discuss her extensive reporting in Southeast Asia on the effects of bird flu.

Weekend editions of both programs will take a look at bird flu as well. On "Saturday Today," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the National Institute of Health's infectious disease expert, will walk through the steps every family should take in anticipation of, and in the event of a bird flu pandemic. He will lay out a preparedness plan for medications, food and family communication. On the weekend edition of "NBC Nightly News with John Seigenthaler," reports will focus on the business impact of bird flu, including how poultry producers and other companies will address and manage public concern about the safety of the food supply. Another report will focus on chicken farming in the United States.

In an hour-long broadcast of "Dateline" to air on Sunday, April 23 (7:00 PM/ET), co-anchor Ann Curry takes an in-depth look at what would happen if a virus like the avian flu caused a pandemic. For the special report, "Dateline" consults experts on the front lines from the Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh, the Centers for Disease Control, the United Nations, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization. In an effort to offer viewers an understanding of how a flu pandemic would affect their lives, the report illustrates how the virus could potentially enter and spread throughout cities in America and around the world, visualizing possible scenarios resulting from human contact.

On Friday, MSNBC will cover the issue with a variety of reports and with special guest Dr. Sue Bailey, MSNBC analyst and former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs. The network will take a look at how a possible outbreak of bird flu would affect the U.S. poultry industry should it reach our shores and will also examine preparations underway throughout the U.S. and especially in Alaska, which is expected to be the first U.S. state to spot the disease. Dr. Bailey will appear on MSNBC throughout the day and will answer viewer questions submitted through She will also appear on "Hardball with Chris Matthews" (5 and 7 p.m. ET) to discuss the politics of the bird flu. MSNBC will continue to cover the issue over the weekend with additional reports and guests.