On February 6, the Department of Human and Health Services (HHS) proposed a $698 billion budget for FY 2007, an increase of $58 billion from last year. Included in the proposed budget are further allocations of funds for pandemic preparedness and response:
· $23 billion allowance for the expansion of domestic vaccine and surge capacities, antiviral stockpiles, research and development of vaccines and antivirals, and supplies for the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS)
· $352 million for the expansion of capabilities in surveillance, detection, risk communication, response, and containment
· $1.3 billion HHS investment in the improvement of state and local public health preparedness
· Increased funding of $110 million for the development of new medical countermeasures for the SNS
· A $20 million increase in funding for improving safeguards to the national food supply during a public health emergency or terrorist attack.
For more on the breakdown of the proposed 2007 HHS budget, visit http://www.hhs.gov/budget/07budget/overview.html.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) releases list of disinfectants that can be used in poultry facilities against avian influenza
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released a list of 90 registered disinfectants that can be used and are currently in use in poultry facilities to protect against influenza A viruses. Though these disinfectants are not specific for H5N1, the EPA believes that these products will be effective against the H5N1 avian influenza strain. For a list of these registered disinfectants and guidelines on their use, visit the EPA site at http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/factsheets/avian_flu_products.htm.
In order to assist businesses in planning for pandemic influenza, HHS and the CDC have developed guidelines and checklists for planning for the impact on businesses, employees and consumers. It has guidelines on establishing policies during pandemic, information on allocating resources, and strategies for educating and communicating with employees.
A national conference on business planning for pandemic influenza was held on Feb 14 and 15 in Minneapolis, sponsored by the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), along with the US and Minnesota Chambers of Commerce. A poll taken during the conference on business preparedness indicated only 18% out of 300 businesses who participated declared that they had plans in place for pandemic influenza, 59% started to plan, 21% had not started yet and 2% rely on their existing crisis management plans. Key areas of importance for business planning included focusing on workers, the involvement of business leaders in planning strategies, reconsidering methods for obtaining supplies and materials, and government restrictions.
In order for households to prepare for a pandemic, the government has provided information that gives planning suggestions to individuals and families and can be accessed at www.pandemicflu.gov. These suggestions include a checklist, health information sheets, emergency contact forms and general information on what people can expect in the event of a pandemic. The checklist includes activities such as stockpiling supplies of non-perishable foods and water, becoming familiar with your local community flu plan, and practicing good hygiene to avoid infection. The health information sheets and emergency contact forms will be helpful if medical attention is needed. They provide contact information, blood type, allergies and medical conditions for each person in the household. In order for people to be prepared and informed in the event of a pandemic they should be ready for disruptions in usual services, schools, travel and other aspects of daily life, and they should inquire about the possibility of working from home. By using these resources people can begin to take steps in their own homes to prepare for pandemic flu.
Trisha Asuncion; Dr. Thomas Calhoun, MD, FACS; Susan Francisco, Aisha Salazar, and Dr. Camelia Savulescu, MD, MPH
Graduate Students, Master of Science Program in Biohazardous Threat Agents and Emerging Infectious Diseases
Georgetown University School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology