Report recommends immediate improvements for Arizona's Pandemic Preparedness Plan

The Arizona Department of Health Services could rapidly improve the State's capability to respond to a potential Avian Influenza pandemic in the next several months by focusing on several key priorities that are not sufficiently addressed in the current version of Arizona's Pandemic Preparedness Plan, according to a new report from the Arizona, Arts, Sciences and Technology Academy.

"Although Arizona's most recent version of its plan is an improvement, we may be running out of time to put the best possible plan into place," said Vincent A. Fulginiti, M.D., chair of the committee that wrote the report and former Chancellor, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and Professor Emeritus, Pediatrics at The University of Arizona. "There is a real possibility that Avian Influenza, carried by migratory birds, could arrive on the North American continent yet this year. Of equal concern are the continuing new cases in Asia and elsewhere of people contracting the virus from infected birds. In a few instances of prolonged exposure to an infected person, the virus has shown the ability to spread slowly to others. It may be sooner rather than later that the virus adapts to spread more easily and very quickly from person to person. If this occurs in a period of months rather than years, Arizona and virtually every other state will be caught very under-prepared."

"This possibility forces a 'what must be done first' approach to preparedness planning to ensure that a basic capability to respond can be achieved rapidly, while at the same time, a longer term effort is underway to put in place the optimal - or most complete - response. AASTA's report focuses on the immediate near term steps necessary to achieve a basic threshold response", Fulginiti said.

The committee reviewed the Arizona Department of Public Health's most recent plan for responding to a pandemic outbreak of Avian Influenza following a conference held on the topic in late April 2006

Contact: Patrick J. Burkhart
Arizona Arts, Sciences and Technology Academy

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