Local Preparedness for Avian Flu

By: Ashley Davidson
By: Ashley Davidson

"At the state level as well as at the local level we are developing response plans for if we do have a pandemic flu outbreak. Whether it be the avian flu or another strain of flu. Because it could come from anywhere."

The difference between a pandemic outbreak of the influenza virus and the seasonal flu is that pandemic is spread worldwide and a seasonal flu is not as wide spread. And a pandemic flu is a more deadly strain of the influenza virus.

No cases of avian flu or any other pandemic influenza virus have been diagnosed in Kentucky.

However, according to the Commonwealth of Kentucky's Cabinet for Health Services Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Response Plan, the maximum number of deaths in Kentucky could reach more than seven thousand, if it were to come here.

There would be almost no way for Kentucky to avoid a pandemic outbreak of the flu if an outbreak came to the United States.

"It's pretty much certain that we're going to be impacted by it. Particularly with international travel."

The last time Kentucky saw a pandemic influenza outbreak was in September of 1918, when infected soldiers traveling on the Louisville to Nashville Railroad stopped of here at the L&N depot in Bowling Green and infected local citizens.

"When the pandemic flu does come, basically we're going to have to be prepared and work with each other. And keep in mind that everybody else is affected by that."

There will be a limited number of vaccines provided by the government and right now health departments around the states are working to make the difficult decision of who gets it first. The first group that would likely receive the vaccine, would be healthcare providers and public health personnel because they are the ones who administer the medicine. Next up, would be police officers, fire fighters, and EMS workers.

Health department officials are continuously working with environmental experts on how to combat the spread of bird flu here in Kentucky.

For more information click on the link below and read the results of an ABC News poll:

http://www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/states/kentucky.html

Majority of Physicians Believe Bird Flu will Reach United States

-- Only One-Third Believe Government Is Prepared to Respond Effectively --

FLEMINGTON, NJ, March 16, 2005 – A new national survey of 760 physicians revealed that an overwhelming majority of physicians (86 percent) believe it is "likely" that the Avian Bird Flu will reach the U.S, while more than half of physicians (55 percent) believe it is "very likely" that the bird flu will reach the U.S.

The national survey was conducted by HCD Research and Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion (MCIPO) during March 13-14, to compare physicians' views on the bird flu with the results of a recent ABC News poll conducted among Americans.

Among the findings:

A clear majority of physicians (86 percent) believe it is "likely" the bird flu will reach the U.S. and 55 percent believe it is "very likely", 78 percent of Americans believe it is "likely" and only 30 percent believe that it is "very likely" that it will reach the U.S.

A majority of physicians (72 percent) are concerned about the bird flu coming to the U.S. and nearly one-quarter (23 percent) are very concerned. Similarly, 66 percent of Americans are concerned about it reaching the U.S. and just over one quarter (26 percent) are very concerned.

Less than half of physicians (46 percent) are worried that it will affect them personally or their family, and a similar number of Americans (41 percent) are worried that it will affect them or their families.

While only one-third of physicians (31 percent) indicated that they are confident in the federal government's ability to handle an outbreak of the bird flu in the U.S., more than half of Americans (59 percent) reported that they are confident.

"The findings in this study and an earlier study that we conducted in October confirm that physicians are taking the threat of human infection very seriously," stated Glenn Kessler, co-founder and managing partner, HCD Research. "We can speculate that the recent flurry of reports from Western Europe may have heightened their concern."

"After reviewing the results of our survey of physicians and the ABC News poll of the general public, it appears that U.S. doctors are more likely to believe that the avian flu virus will arrive in the United States than the general public," noted Christopher Borick, Ph.D., director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion. "However, generally there is the same level of concern among physicians regarding the virus as the populous."


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