Dummy Emergency Operation Launched

by Ann Samuel on  February 23, 2007 at 2:51 PM Bird Flu News
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Dummy Emergency Operation Launched
Health officials across UK are participating in a dummy exercise- an emergency operation, should UK be hit by bird flu pandemic.

The preparation may be staged, but the fear is real.

Health experts in Britain are wary of a bird flu epidemic hitting the nation and the exercise is meant to train medical and health professionals to handle the situation.

Usually bird flu refers to the virus found chiefly in birds, but infections with these viruses have occurred in humans since 1997, in Asia, parts of Europe, the Near East and Africa. Most cases have occurred in healthy children and young adults and have resulted from direct or close contact with infected poultry or contaminated surfaces. The spread of bird flu from one ill person to another has been reported very rarely.

Yet, scientists are concerned that the virus could, one day, spread easily among humans, since flu viruses have the ability to mutate.

As these viruses do not commonly infect humans, people have little or no natural immunity against them. If the virus does become capable of spreading easily from person to person, a flu pandemic, or worldwide outbreak, could begin.

No one can predict when a pandemic might occur; however, experts from around the world are monitoring the situation in Asia and Europe very closely. They are also preparing for the possibility that the virus may begin to spread easily.

The operation is an attempt to estimate the way, in which certain aspects of the country's infrastructure, such as health, transport, education and food distribution would keep working during an outbreak.

Under current planning for an outbreak, schools would be closed in areas suffering an outbreak, to protect children and stem the spread of the disease.

A dedicated "flu line" would field calls from the public, and be used to distribute the stockpiles of Tamiflu antivirals to those who had symptoms of the virus.

To help avoid getting any type of flu, heath workers advise people to wash their hands or use alcohol-based hand rubs, cover their nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, and remain at home if they have flu-like symptoms until the fever has subsided for 24 hours.

Says Sir Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer for England" When a flu pandemic hits the country the top priority for the government is to protect the public. "The World Health Organization has said that the UK is at the forefront of preparations internationally, but it is always necessary to test our responses and improve them where required.

"The NHS is ready to implement its well-rehearsed plan", he added.

Source: Medindia

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