U.S. To Release Family Preparedness Guide for Avian Flu
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt on Friday is expected to release an avian flu preparedness guide for U.S. families that includes suggestions on how to stockpile supplies, educate children at home and volunteer with local emergency response teams, the AP/Long Island Newsday reports.
The guide states that families should stockpile water, nonperishable food and prescription drugs. In addition, individuals should wash their hands frequently; stay home if they are sick; eat nutritious foods; exercise; and cough or sneeze into their upper sleeve if they do not have a tissue.
The guide also says that people should be prepared to teach their children at home in case schools are closed for long periods and should consider that transportation may be disrupted. The guide recommends that families keep a chart with basic medical information and that individuals volunteer with local groups to assist local emergency response.
According to the guide, an avian flu pandemic could last for months with waves of outbreaks, and "[p]reparation will bring peace of mind and the confidence that we are ready to fight a flu pandemic."
William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said the guide sets an appropriate tone and should not cause a panic. He also praised the recommendation that people organize support systems in case of an emergency but said the guide should also have recommended that people quit smoking because smoking increases the risk of pulmonary infection (Freking, AP/Long Island Newsday, 1/5).
In related news, poultry farmers who account for about 90% of the nation's chicken production will begin testing their flocks for influenza on Jan. 16, the National Chicken Council announced on Thursday. A council spokesperson said about 1.6 million birds will be tested annually (McNeil, New York Times, 1/6).
NPR's "All Things Considered" on Thursday in the first of a series on Seattle's planning for a potential bird flu pandemic examined how the city and surrounding King County, Wash., have developed a regional plan for minimizing illness, death and social disruption from avian flu. According to NPR, Seattle's plan includes screening airline passengers at SeaTac International Airport, training volunteers to support critically ill patients with manual; hand-held respirators to offset a shortage of ventilators; launching a county Web site to advise residents on how to handle a corpse until mortuary workers can collect it; and closing public gathering places, such as schools, movie theaters, sports arenas and Pike Place Market.
The segment includes comments from Jeff Duchin, chief of infection control for the King County Public Health Department; Peter Houck, chief medical officer for CDC in Seattle; Peter McGough, a primary care physician in Seattle; Chris Martin, director of emergency services at Harborview Medical Center; and Ron Sims, CEO of King County (Knox, "All Things Considered," NPR, 1/5). A transcript of the story is available online. The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer. The program is scheduled to air a second segment in the series on Friday ("All Things Considered," NPR, 1/6). The complete segment will be available online in RealPlayer after the broadcast.