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Media Contact: Lance Skelly 19 May 2006
  lskelly@emory.edu    
  (404) 686-8538 ((40) 4) -686-8538   Print  | Email ]
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Emory Infection Control Director Part of WHO Pandemic Planning Group
Emory Healthcare Infection Control Director Betsy Hackman recently was one of a select group invited to join a World Health Organization panel in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss a rapid response strategy in the event of a global influenza pandemic.

Hackman and two representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) joined the international coalition of experts in the areas of operational planning, outbreak response, logistics, epidemiology, laboratory diagnosis, infection control, health legislation, ethics, social mobilization, and public and media communications.

According to Hackman, the coalition was brought together to discuss and draft protocols for implementing a strategy, in which national and international planning and resources are coordinated to detect, and potentially contain or stop, an emerging virus before it reaches full pandemic.

"We were invited to facilitate rapid detection and assessment of potential 'signals' that a virus may be increasing in transmissibility, and to guide implementation of effective response interventions before an emerging pandemic virus has spread beyond an identified area," said Hackman. "Three different teams were organized--including an operations group, surveillance and epidemiology group, and a public health measures group, of which I was a part."

Hackman's public health measures group was charged with a number of different issues, including containment and community measures, medication resources for citizens and front-line medical care workers, and quarantine and travel restriction recommendations, including the possibility of border closings. She said, "The containment protocol is designed to enable a coordinated approach to the rapid detection, assessment, and response to the emergence of a pandemic virus," said Hackman.

"Stopping a pandemic already in progress depends on several factors, including the early identification of the virus strain, the ability of the global community to implement containment procedures, and the ability to effectively control the movement of people in and out of the affected area to try and prevent further spread of a virus. If you can get ahead of the virus by identifying it and quickly containing its spread, you are ahead of the game. Recently, during the global SARS outbreak, however, we saw that once the virus gets out and begins to spread, containment becomes much more difficult. For whatever reason, we were fortunate that SARS disappeared almost as quickly as it appeared on our radar. However, that situation certainly helped prepare us better for future events of this nature." Hackman said that follow-up meetings and discussions would eventually take place to fine-tune the protocol, but in her opinion, some of the best minds in the world are preparing for the worst case scenario.

"We have some of the very best people in the world planning and preparing for the possibility of a pandemic event," said Hackman. "The ability for local and state governments and organizations to build effective plans and foster relationships is just as crucial as these types of international events. In the event of a pandemic event, every city, county and state will have to rely on their own resources and plan of action."

Media Contact: Lance Skelly 19 May 2006
  lance.skelly@emory.edu    
  (404) 686-8538   Print  | Email ]
Share:

del.icio.us

Emory Infection Control Director Part of WHO Pandemic Planning Group
Emory Healthcare Infection Control Director Betsy Hackman recently was one of a select group invited to join a World Health Organization panel in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss a rapid response strategy in the event of a global influenza pandemic.

Hackman and two representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) joined the international coalition of experts in the areas of operational planning, outbreak response, logistics, epidemiology, laboratory diagnosis, infection control, health legislation, ethics, social mobilization, and public and media communications.

According to Hackman, the coalition was brought together to discuss and draft protocols for implementing a strategy, in which national and international planning and resources are coordinated to detect, and potentially contain or stop, an emerging virus before it reaches full pandemic.

"We were invited to facilitate rapid detection and assessment of potential 'signals' that a virus may be increasing in transmissibility, and to guide implementation of effective response interventions before an emerging pandemic virus has spread beyond an identified area," said Hackman. "Three different teams were organized--including an operations group, surveillance and epidemiology group, and a public health measures group, of which I was a part."

Hackman's public health measures group was charged with a number of different issues, including containment and community measures, medication resources for citizens and front-line medical care workers, and quarantine and travel restriction recommendations, including the possibility of border closings. She said, "The containment protocol is designed to enable a coordinated approach to the rapid detection, assessment, and response to the emergence of a pandemic virus," said Hackman.

"Stopping a pandemic already in progress depends on several factors, including the early identification of the virus strain, the ability of the global community to implement containment procedures, and the ability to effectively control the movement of people in and out of the affected area to try and prevent further spread of a virus. If you can get ahead of the virus by identifying it and quickly containing its spread, you are ahead of the game. Recently, during the global SARS outbreak, however, we saw that once the virus gets out and begins to spread, containment becomes much more difficult. For whatever reason, we were fortunate that SARS disappeared almost as quickly as it appeared on our radar. However, that situation certainly helped prepare us better for future events of this nature." Hackman said that follow-up meetings and discussions would eventually take place to fine-tune the protocol, but in her opinion, some of the best minds in the world are preparing for the worst case scenario.

"We have some of the very best people in the world planning and preparing for the possibility of a pandemic event," said Hackman. "The ability for local and state governments and organizations to build effective plans and foster relationships is just as crucial as these types of international events. In the event of a pandemic event, every city, county and state will have to rely on their own resources and plan of action."



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