The headlines may have died down in recent months, but bird flu experts say that the threat of a global pandemic has actually been growing. The World Health Organization outlined the spread of the bird flu virus around the world to 150 experts drawn together to discuss protective measures.

According to the group, the bird flu virus is now present in Asia, Africa and parts of Europe in the native bird populations. The biggest concern is that at some point the virus will mutate into a version that can easily spread among humans. The current version of the virus has infected 382 people and killed 241 of them–63% mortality rate which is extremely high for a viral infection. Most scientists now think that it is not a matter of “if” the virus mutates, but “when”.

In response, WHO has been tracking the progress of 16 companies that have been developing new bird flu vaccines and plans to create a stockpile of 150 million doses.

Some of the forecasts of the human and economic tolls of a pandemic are daunting. A moderate pandemic could kill 15 million people, while a severe pandemic could kill 80 million people. In addition, the forecasts are that the moderate pandemic would cut about 3.1 percent of world gross domestic product – around US$1.25 trillion on a world GDP of US$40 trillion, while a severe pandemic would cut 5% of GDP or US$2 trillion.

The one thing this has done for my wife and I is motivate us to do our food storage. We now have several months of water and food saved up. If this pandemic hit, I am working from home – if anyone works at all and not going out in public to prevent my family from getting infected. While this is a doomsday scenario, we are now prepared for anything with our food storage!