Colo. preparing for avian flu
December 10, 2005
AURORA – About 75 health care workers were briefed on state and federal preparedness for a possible avian flu pandemic at a seminar Saturday about the rare influenza strain.”We wanted to give people a sense of what’s going on in preparing for avian influenza and also emphasize the importance of involving the community and the role they’ll have in coming up with responses,” said Mark Yarborough, director of the University of Colorado’s Center for Bioethics and Humanities, which hosted the seminar.The seminar topics ranged from a scientific breakdown of the virus to ethical concerns, including those about quarantines and prioritizing vaccine distribution.Although the avian flu has a startling mortality rate of more than 50 percent, there have been fewer than 150 proven cases of bird flu in humans worldwide, and panelists said Coloradans don’t need to panic. Forgoing turkey is unnecessary, for example.”Discomfort comes with not knowing what’s going on,” said Ned Calonge, medical director for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “Once you know, that knowledge gives you comfort.”Calonge said the preparedness for an avian flu breakout is much farther along than five years ago.”Preparedness is a process, not an endpoint,” he said.