Houston Area Prepares for Flu

Public health officials and local researchers are working on an effort to prepare the Houston region for a flu outbreak.

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Working from the premise that the best response to an influenza outbreak should be based on scientific information and expertise, a number of scientists, doctors and officials are holding discussions about what could happen if Houston is hit by a viral outbreak. Dr. Scott Lillibridge is the director of the Center for Biosecurity and Public Health Preparedness at the UT School of Public Health. He says preparing for a flu pandemic requires a multi-disciplinary approach unlike other illness.

Lillibridge says getting the community ready for a flu pandemic requires the same steps at bioterrorism preparedness and he thinks both could be accomplished at the same time. The U.S. has not undergone a serious influenza outbreak since the Spanish flu ravaged the world in 1918. Lillibridge says there is no need to panic, but it is imperative to be ready.

Lillibridge says the Texas Medical Center, along with Houston, Harris County and State health departments are doing more than just talking about regional preparedness.

The collaborative plan has been the subject of increased focus since President George Bush outlined his strategy for National Influenza Preparedness at the beginning of this month.

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