Friday, March 31, 2006


Gov't Can't Fight Flu Pandemic, States Told

The highest federal budget in history; the country has borrowed more money than all the previous administrations did, put together...And these thieves tell us the Federal Government won’t be able to help very much?

Oregon prepares for flu pandemic
3/30/2006, 5:30 p.m. PT
The Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregonians and people across the country need to take the possibility of a flu pandemic seriously and prepare for a possible outbreak, a top Bush administration official and Oregon's governor said Thursday.

"We're overdue for a pandemic and under-prepared," Mike Leavitt, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, told more than 100 government, health and business representatives at an influenza planning summit.

At the meeting, state and federal officials sharpened their plans to deal with a potential global influenza problem in Oregon. If a pandemic occurs, government officials are prepared to detect and attempt to control it but said the total impact would be beyond their reach.

An influenza pandemic could cripple the work force, economy and well-being of the state. So, officials recommend all citizens, community groups and businesses also make plans to cope.

"People of Oregon will have to come to the help of people of Oregon," said Leavitt, whose agency is holding influenza pandemic preparedness summits in every state.

A flu pandemic occurs when a new virus emerges that can be passed easily and rapidly among people across the globe. Because it is new, people would have no natural immunity and it could cause a more serious problem than a normal seasonal flu.

If a moderate flu pandemic occurred, about 1 million Oregonians could become ill, 12,000 could require hospitalization and 3,000 could die, the state public health department said.

There has not been an influenza pandemic since 1968 and the odds are low that the current avian flu strain will mutate to one passed easily among humans, said Susan Allan, Oregon's public health director.

If an influenza pandemic did occur, hospital and health systems could be short of staff and equipment to care for all patients, forcing some to ration care. The public health system would be able to communicate in real-time with hospitals and other first responders but might not be able to address all community needs.

"We seem to live in increasingly troubled times," Gov. Ted Kulongoski said. "Strangely though, Americans are not worried about influenza."

"We in Oregon are not prepared for a pandemic," Kulongoski said.

Kulongoski and others urged families, community groups and businesses to use government tips and checklists, which are available online, to develop disaster plans.

Oregon officials said they are constantly updating their ability to respond to a major emergency. The state has disbursed more than $28 million of federal grants during the last four years to improve public health response. It has already held a small test of its response system and will conduct a full-scale test in the fall.

"Anything you say about a pandemic before it happens seems alarmist; anything you do after it comes that you've prepared for seems inadequate," Leavitt said. "There's no one in the world who is well-prepared for a pandemic ... we are getting better prepared everyday."

___ On the Net:

Department of Health and Human Services pandemic flu information:

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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