State: Plan now

Published 5:24 am Monday, July 17, 2006

By By LISA TINDELL – News reporter
Presented by the Alabama Department of Public Health, the program was headed by Ricky Elliott, assistant area administrator with the Escambia County Health Department.
The Escambia County Health Department is putting into place a plan that will be used in the event the area experiences an influenza pandemic.
Elliott said a pandemic is one caused by a virus that no one has an immunity to and that is easily passed from person to person.
A pandemic is one that is seen converge on the general population in three waves.
If a pandemic occurs, daily functions will become a difficult task, according to statistics based on findings from the 1918 pandemic that griped the Huntsville and Montgomery area.
Elliott also said that during the pandemic that every physician, druggist and prescription clerk, except one, in the Hunstville area became ill with the virus and was unable to work.
A loss of manpower due to the widespread illness would be one of the most crippling effects on any community, said Chad Kent, emergency preparedness coordinator for the health department's Area 9.
Kent also said about 14,000 residents would likely seek medical attention with an additional 1,300 being hospitalized as a result of the illness.
In an effort to keep down illnesses in your home and workplace there are things that can be done, Kent said.
Simple precautions can make a difference in staving off illnesses of any kind, especially easily transmittable viruses such as the flu.
One of the topics that have caused some folks in the medical and health care fields to express concern is the Avian flu or bird flu.
Frazier wanted to emphasize one important fact that has been determined by research and studies.
Frazier also emphasized the virus is found primarily in wild fowl, but would have to cross to domestic birds, then to swine before infecting a human.
Two drugs are being considered for vaccines with each having unique qualities.
Summits much like the one presented here on Friday will continue throughout the state during the coming months.
A continued effort by the Alabama Department of Public Health and County Health Departments will be evidenced as workshops on implementing plans for action in the event of a pandemic will be held as deemed necessary.