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avian flu

Case Study: The Avian Flu Threat


Projections are that Avian flu could cause problems in the U.S. in approximately one year. We must ask the question, are we ready? The virus is not new in this country. It has been around in chickens for over 20 years. A virulent strain of the virus named H5N2 recently surfaced in Texas and has been curtailed. We know from news reports and interviews with health officials that the disease is not passed from human to human, only from birds to humans.

The World Health Organization (WHO), which counts only those deaths which they document as verified in a lab, gives the number as 98 of 177 who contracted H5N1, the Avian bird flu virus that infects poultry in Asia. The number of deaths seems small, but the medical community ‘s fear is that the virus will mutate into a strain that can be transmitted by humans to humans. If this happens WHO says, “The world is unprepared.” Their statistics were given in mid-march and they are expecting to confirm another three deaths shortly.

Members of the medical community, emergency managers and emergency communications managers are highly concerned about this new risk to public safety. Go to the website http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avian/and read what the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has to say about Risk Communication. Review its Pandemic Planning Checklist and Planning Tools materials.

Review http://www.hhs.gov/od/documents/RiskCommunication.pdf Look up two other web sites that will inform you concerning this case study.

You may also find the following document helpful. apempire_AP_PREPARING_00007.pdf

During the course, we have analyzed two major disasters-the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina, and a local disaster in Oklahoma City. We have worked through the crises experienced by SSI Inc., and in this module we will examine what could occur health officials say “when, not if” a pandemic occurs.

Write a 7 to 10 page paper that incorporates the lessons learned in our discussions and written assignments during the course. Having learned these lessons, write an emergency communications plan to deal with the threat of Avian flu in the United States. The plan should address:

  1. The public information responsibilities of the medical community
  2. Preparedness on the part of emergency managers and partners
  3. Internal and external communications
  4. Educating and informing the public
  5. Technology and interoperability
  6. The media

You may come up with additional areas that you feel emergency managers need to address. Be sure to cite references from your readings and web research.

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