County prepares a bird flu plan
El Dorado County Public Health Department says it is coordinating with hospitals and other agencies to create an emergency plan in the case of a bird flu epidemic.
Bird flu has not been found in the United States and cannot yet spread between humans. The bird flu virus, most commonly spread among birds, has the potential to mutate so that it can easily infect and transmit quickly from human-to-human.
Key elements of El Dorado County’s pandemic influenza response plan will include:
— Disease surveillance, investigation and epidemiological response to detect and control spread of pandemic flu.
— Prompt exchange of information among health professionals.
— Delivery of timely, accurate, credible and useful information to health care providers, media and the public.
— System to monitor the distribution of vaccine and antivirals when/if available.
— Detailed planning and outreach with the hospital and health care community, local businesses, schools, emergency response and essential service providers, government agencies, community organizations, state and federal health authorities and the public.
Surveillance activities for influenza are already in place at South Shore, according to doctor Jason Eberhart-Phillips, health officer for El Dorado County.
Barton Memorial Hospital is now actively tracking which strains of flu are causing illness and Barton has been selected to participate in the statewide flu surveillance program.
Any unusual findings or significant increases in cases will be reported to both the State Department of Health Services and the El Dorado County Public Health Department.
Health officials cannot create a human vaccine for the flu until it becomes a human disease.
“The key to slowing the spread of pandemic influenza is early detection and containment,” said Eberhart-Phillips. “All members of the community need to take this potential threat seriously and make plans now for how they would respond.”
Preparing for pandemic flu
— Stay home when you are sick. Individuals who report to work, school or other public places when they are sick with the flu will infect others and spread influenza.
— Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, with warm water and soap, and for at least 15 seconds.
— Cover your cough. Use a tissue or your elbow, not your hand.
— Stock up on supplies at home. Should a pandemic arrive, there may be temporary shortages of food and other items, as well as disruptions in services.
For more information about avian and pandemic influenza, visit http://www.co.el-dorado.ca.us/publichealth/.
Source: El Dorado County Health Department
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