October 2007 MedBytes: Pandemic Influenza

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In the event of a pandemic influenza outbreak, physicians should be prepared to be inundated with patients in need of care. The Web sites featured here have updated information and resources to assist Texas physicians in the face of a potential epidemic.

Texas Medical Association
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Flu Gallery and Other Flu-Related Issues on the Web site of the Texas Medical Association,  www.texmed.org , is home to a variety of influenza resources physicians can use to stay informed. Click on Public Health and Science from the home page, select Physician Resources from the menu, and choose  Influenza . The Articles and Reports section links you to information about prevention and control of influenza, pandemic flu updates, flu vaccine details, and pandemic flu containment. Under the General Information heading, the Influenza, Avian Flu and Pandemic Flu PDF defines each type of flu, lists symptoms, and outlines available vaccines and risks to the population.

Texas Department of State Health Services
The Infectious Disease Control Unit of the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) contains the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Plan. Visit  www.dshs.state.tx.us/idcu  to download a PDF draft of the plan. You can also view the DSHS briefing document, the executive summary, and a list of frequently asked questions. In addition to the preparedness plan, physicians can access Pandemic Flu Resources to share with their patients and communities. From the home page,  www.dshs.state.tx.us , click on Flu-Pandemic under the DSHS Today menu on the right side of the screen. There you'll find information from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Red Cross. DSHS fact sheets on pandemic flu, avian flu, and isolation and quarantine are available as PDFs.

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
The faculty, staff, departments, schools, and campuses at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center are coordinating efforts to create a master plan for the institution should an influenza pandemic occur. Information about the planning efforts and planning committee is available on the Pandemic Influenza Initiative portion of the Web site,  www.ttuhsc.edu/flu . The Facts and Background link on the site will direct you to a breakdown of the scientific projections that support the potential of a pandemic, as well as a history of flu pandemics and information about the 1918 flu outbreak. Physicians can point their patients toward the resources in the Personal & Family Planning section online. Click on Informational Links to connect to news stories about pandemic influenza and to download a pandemic flu brochure in English and Spanish.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The PandemicFlu.gov,  www.pandemicflu.gov , Web site of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is a one-stop shop for federal, state and local, individual, workplace, school, health care, and community planning. For a glance at Texas resources, select State & Local Planning from the menu at the top of the home page. Scroll down to State-by-State Pandemic Information, and click on Texas from the map. Texas-specific topics include Federal Help for Texas Planning, State Activities, Local Activities, and State Contacts. The Health Care Planning tab on the menu links physicians and other health care professionals to Checklists, Pandemic Influenza Toolkit, Guidelines, and Planning Guides. Checklists feature structure for planning and decision making, development of a written pandemic influenza plan, and elements of an influenza pandemic plan for emergency medical services, home care services, medical offices and clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and health insurers.

Vaccine Services of Texas
In addition to informing the public and physicians about vaccine supply and flu shots, Vaccine Services of Texas addresses pandemic influenza on its Web site. Click on Pandemic Flu … The Threat is Real below the Flu Shot News heading on the left side of the screen. Browse the topics on the page to get an update on the number of human H5N1 cases, an explanation of avian influenza viruses, and an overview of vaccination and treatment for H5N1 virus in humans. The Fact Sheets link will connect you to information on the PandemicFlu.gov site regarding influenza pandemic and avian influenza. You can also access the History of Pandemics from this portion of the site.

MedBytes is a quick look at new, or newly discovered, Web sites of interest to Texas physicians. The column also highlights features of the TMA Web site. If you know of some interesting medical sites or have questions about how to use the TMA Web site, email Crystal Conde. Publication of information about Web sites in this column is not to be considered an endorsement or approval by the Texas Medical Association of the sites or sponsors, or of any products or services involved.  

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