Saturday, January 21, 2006

USA: Law School Hosts Avian Flu Symposium

More than 250 scientists, lawyers, first-responders, and other individuals concerned about the possibilities of an influenza pandemic filled Westminster Hall on Jan. 13 for the School of Law's day-long symposium "Avian Flu: What Can We Do?" The symposium at the University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB) brought together more than 23 national avian flu experts to discuss problems related to the avian flu and create partnerships to fight the threat of a pandemic flu outbreak. Panel discussions included the basic science of influenza, vaccine development, quarantine and isolation, antivirals, the role of institutions, the role of government, and the role of practitioners. (Source: UMB News)

Some key points noted at the symposium are:

1) the challenge is to devise a test to predict whether a strain will shift or drift, and then to develop a vaccine that addresses the specific virus.

2) the need to bring 21st -century technology to vaccine manufacturing through the use of disposable plastic bags instead of eggs to grow the flu cells.

3) develop a computerized model of emergency service response to epidemics which can be used as a tool for planning and research.

4) the need to improve the immune response through mass immunzation sessions at schools and other educational institutions

5) availability of relief personnel at agencies for extended overload situations and communications systems with the ability to handle the load of an EMS pandemic response.

6) the need for a flexible and robust interface between EMS and public health officials withthe aim of educating each side about the other's capabilities, strategies, and limits as part of a county's infectious disease response plans
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