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Author Topic: HHS UNVEILS TWO NEW EFFORTS TO ADVANCE PANDEMIC FLU PREPAREDNESS  (Read 2132 times)

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HHS UNVEILS TWO NEW EFFORTS TO ADVANCE PANDEMIC FLU PREPAREDNESS
« on: February 01, 2007, 06:26:36 PM »

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HHS UNVEILS TWO NEW EFFORTS TO ADVANCE PANDEMIC FLU PREPAREDNESS

Date:  February 1, 2007
For Release:  Immediately
Contact: HHS Press Office
(202) 690-6343
CDC Media Relations
(404) 639-3286


Headline:  HHS UNVEILS TWO NEW EFFORTS TO ADVANCE PANDEMIC FLU
PREPAREDNESS
Planning guidance to assist community decision-makers; PSAs to raise
public awareness

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in cooperation with departments
and agencies across the Federal Government, today announced two new
efforts designed to improve state, local and community preparedness for
an influenza pandemic, which can occur when a new strain of flu appears
for which people have no immunity, and disease spreads rapidly around
the world.

CDC released new guidance on community planning strategies that state
and local community decision-makers, as well as individuals, need to
consider based on the severity of an influenza pandemic.  These
strategies are important because the best protection against pandemic
influenza  -- a vaccine -- is not likely to be available at the outset
of a pandemic.  Community strategies that delay or reduce the impact of
a pandemic (also called non-pharmaceutical interventions) may help
reduce the spread of disease until a vaccine that is well-matched to the
virus is available.  

The CDC guidance released today was developed in collaboration with
other federal agencies and public health and private partners.  The
federal government has undertaken many efforts in the last few years to
encourage and strengthen the nation's pandemic influenza preparedness,
and this guidance builds upon previously released planning documents and
guidelines.

 "The threat of a pandemic continues to be real.  We need to continue
helping state and local decision-makers determine some of the specific
actions they could take during the course of a pandemic to reduce
illness and save lives," said HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt.  "An important
consideration for action is the severity of a pandemic once it emerges.
The new CDC guidelines are a step forward in that direction."

The new guidelines focus primarily on community-level measures that
could be used during an influenza pandemic in an effort to reduce the
spread of infection.  In order to help authorities determine the most
appropriate actions to take, the guidelines incorporate a new pandemic
influenza planning tool for use by states, communities, businesses,
schools and others.  The tool, a Pandemic Severity Index (PSI), takes
into account the fact that the amount of harm caused by pandemics can
vary greatly, with that variability having an impact on recommended
public health, school and business actions.  




The PSI, which is modeled after the approach used to characterize
hurricanes, has five different categories of pandemics, with a category
1 representing moderate severity and a category 5 representing the most
severe.  The severity of a pandemic is primarily determined by its death
rate, or the percentage of infected people who die.  A category 1
pandemic is as harmful as a severe seasonal influenza season, while a
pandemic with the same intensity of the 1918 flu pandemic, or worse,
would be classified as category 5.

"It's important that we try in advance to imagine and evaluate some of
the steps that could be taken to slow the spread of pandemic influenza
in communities," said Dr. Julie Gerberding, CDC director.  "That
requires a great deal of forethought, vision, and collaboration.  I'm
proud of CDC's efforts to guide the efforts of many federal and state
partners to develop the severity index -- and to then link severity with
potential actions.  We recognize that much work remains, but this new
approach should help communities, schools, businesses, and others
strengthen their pandemic influenza plans."  

Based on the projected severity of the pandemic, government and health
officials may recommend different actions communities can take in order
to try to limit the spread of disease.  These actions, which are
designed primarily to reduce contact between people, may include:

1)    Asking ill persons to remain at home or not go to work until
they are no longer contagious (seven to 10 days). Ill persons will be
treated with antiviral medication if drugs are available and effective
against the pandemic strain.
2)    Asking household members of ill persons to stay at home for
seven days.
3)    Dismissing students from schools and closing child care programs
for up to three months for the most severe pandemics, and reducing
contact among kids and teens in the community.
4)    Recommending social distancing of adults in the community and at
work, which may include closing large public gatherings, changing
workplace environments and shifting work schedules without disrupting
essential services.

These measures will be most effective if they are implemented early and
uniformly across communities during a pandemic, objectives that can only
be met through advance planning. The guidance illustrates the
interventions that are likely to be recommended at each category of
severity.

While these actions could significantly reduce the number of persons who
become ill during a flu pandemic, they each carry potentially adverse
consequences that community planners should anticipate and address in
their planning efforts.  The guidance describes many of these
consequences, and provides planners with initial recommendations on
strategies to address them.  These recommendations may be revised in the
coming months based on feedback that the government will seek from a
variety of specific communities, including the private sector, education
community, faith and community-based organizations and the public health
community.

Planning guides for businesses and other employers, child care programs,
elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, faith-based
and community organizations, and individuals and families are included
in the appendix of the guidance.  


This guidance was developed through a collaborative process that
included public health officials, mathematical modelers, researchers,
and stakeholders from government, academia, private industry, education
and civic and faith-based organizations.  It will be refined as needed
based on further knowledge gained from research, exercises and practical
experience.

Also today, as part of the continuing effort to raise awareness and
educate the public about pandemic influenza and the need to prepare in
advance, HHS unveiled a number of new radio and television public
service announcements (PSAs).  The PSAs encourage people to learn more
about pandemic influenza and to know more about their state and local
community's efforts to prepare for a potential pandemic.

"We need to keep up our efforts to educate the public before a pandemic
emerges, and these PSAs will help people 'know what do to about pandemic
flu,'" Secretary Leavitt said.

The PSAs and the community planning guidance, titled Interim
Pre-pandemic Planning Guidance: Community Strategy for Pandemic
Influenza Mitigation in the United States - Early Targeted Layered use
of Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions, are available at
www.pandemicflu.gov.






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Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are
available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.
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