Tuesday, November 29, 2005

News - County to initiate planning process for flu pandemic

Carol Borger will soon start going through the ?what if? scenario - the one which deals with the possibility of a flu pandemic.

Borger is administrator for the Butler County Health Department. Beginning in December and continuing into January, she said, she plans to initiate the planning process for avian flu, a strain of flu she said now appears likely to eventually make its way to the United States.

On Tuesday of last week, she said, she attended a presentation by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment at which the Kansas plan for pandemic flu - a plan first rolled out about two weeks ago - was discussed.

Already, Borger said, health officials in Wichita and Sedgwick County have started the pandemic flu planning process, in which monthly meetings with the people who will be their partners in the planning process are being held.

She said that process extends all the way to the elected officials who would be in positions of authority should the need for any kind of isolation or quarantine arise.

Borger said Butler County's planning process will be on a ?much smaller? scale than what takes place in Sedgwick County, since Butler's population is substantially smaller.

In this county, she said, it will be a matter of determining who the planning partners are going to be, what will need to be acquired and what things will need to get done.

She said the health department will be working with health care providers in the community, hospital personnel and even Butler County Emergency Medical Services and Butler County Emergency Management/Homeland Security - the people who would be affected should a flu pandemic arrive in the United States and make its way to Kansas and Butler County.

?We seem to blame a lot of things on ?the flu,' ? Borger said; however, she said, true influenza is caused by one of the various strains of the flu virus.

She said the avian flu is a particular strain of influenza which seems to be more virulent, has not been seen before around the world and one for which no kind of natural immunity has been built.

Avian flu could still mutate and change, Borger said, and because of the factors currently associated with it, everyone - not just the usual at-risk groups such as the very young and the infirm - is susceptible to it.

El Dorado Times

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