Tuesday May 9, 2006
Everyday we hear more and more about Avian Flu, more commonly known as Bird Flu. Experts agree that if an outbreak such as this should occur, it is imperative that communities across the country be prepared. How would a business operate if 40% of the workforce were ill? What happens if emergency rooms are overburdened? Will there be enough vaccine for all residents? Is the Avian Flu really even going to affect us? If it does, how will Louisville respond? These questions and more were explored today at the Pandemic Flu Summit hosted by the Louisville Metro Health Department as well as representatives from local, state and federal emergency response and disaster preparedness agencies.
More than 400 local and state officials, health and emergency management agencies, business and community partners, and private sector representatives attended the event to discuss how to prepare for such a threat.
Louisville’s summit is just one of several summits being held throughout the state and the nation. The one-day session is designed to raise awareness about the importance of planning for a pandemic flu outbreak or other health-related threat.
A pandemic is defined in medical terms as a new, widespread flu virus that causes severe illness and is easily passed from human to human, noted Dr. Adewale Troutman, director, of the Louisville Metro Health Department. "I want to stress that as of today the risk to humans for contracting bird flu is very low,” Troutman said. “But today’s summit addressed the need for awareness of the potential local impact of a pandemic and the importance of planning for such a possibility."
In the morning, summit participants heard from several presenters including: Captain Clara Cobb, Deputy Regional Health Administrator, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services; Dr. William Hacker, Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Public Health; Dr. Paul McKinney, University of Louisville, School of Public Health and Information Sciences; and Dr. Matt Zahn, Medical Director, Louisville Metro Health Department.
In the afternoon attendees broke into discussion groups to address such topics as: Business Continuity during a Pandemic; Effects of a Pandemic on Government and Essential Services; The Importance of Risk Communications; Hospital Surge Capacity; and Early Recognition and Surveillance of a Pandemic.
Invitations to participate in the summit were sent to area business and government leaders, legislators, schools, hospitals, churches, businesses, nonprofits, emergency services, local media outlets and law enforcement personnel. For more information on the Avian Flu visit
one of the following:
The mission of the Louisville Metro Health Department is to protect, preserve and promote the health, environment and well being of the people of Louisville. To learn more about the Health Department’s programs and services go to www.louisvilleky.gov/health.
Dr. Hacker, the Commissioner for the Kentucky Department of Public Health addresses the audience.