Currently, there is no cure for this virus, Dr. Osterholm says. Scientists and public health officials hope that Tamiflu, a prescription drug designed to fight the common flu, will also help people suffering from the bird flu. Tamiflu has proven very effective against this season's flu strain, but Dr. Osterholm says it doesn't work nearly as well when up against the bird flu.
Before you rush out to your local pharmacy to stock up on Tamiflu, Dr. Osterholm urges people to conserve the nation's supply.
"We don't want to use [Tamiflu] when people don't have the real, serious pandemic flu," he says. "You use it up, and we can't produce it fast enough. So I'm not so sure I want a lot of people going to the pharmacy to buy this, even if they could, because I think we need to strategically place it."
If there's no medication left to offer healthcare workers, Dr. Osterholm says we can't expect them to "walk into the face of fire" and tend to the sick without protection from the disease.