December 2005 MedBytes: Flu on the Web

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This month's Texas Medicine reports on the threat posed by influenza this year and the possibility of an avian flu outbreak. The World Wide Web has many sites that provide additional information about influenza and its threat to humans.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The CDC site at  is one of the top online resources for information. The site includes annual estimates of the available flu vaccine, recommendations on who should be vaccinated if there is a vaccine shortage, information on clinical description and diagnosis and how to control infection, and flu activity updates. CDC officials have also added a section on the avian flu. It includes information on outbreaks, transmission between animals and people, vaccine availability, and infection control in health care facilities.

Texas Department of State Health Services
The agency once known as the Texas Department of Health has some of the same information you can find on the CDC site. But its Web site,, does have some Texas-specific information, including how the state plans to deal with a flu pandemic. It also has links to the CDC and the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

National Vaccine Program Office
The National Vaccine Program Office (NVPO), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides pertinent information about childhood, adolescent, and adult immunizations. NVPO is responsible for coordinating and ensuring collaboration among the many federal agencies involved in vaccine and immunization activities. It is supporting a new initiative to provide $100 million for activities designed to ensure year-round influenza vaccine capacity and to incentivize the accelerated development, licensing, and domestic production of cell-culture influenza. The NVPO site,, contains the draft version of the national Pandemic Influenza Response and Preparedness Plan and a list of interagency groups that work with vaccine issues.

Infectious Diseases Society of America
The Infectious Diseases Society of America represents physicians, scientists, and other health care professionals who specialize in infectious diseases. Its Web site,, has the society's latest news releases; its practice guidelines for different health conditions; and information about professional development, research opportunities, and training programs for physicians and medical students.

Instituteof Medicine of the National Academies
The nation turns to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies for science-based advice on matters of biomedical science, medicine, and health. A nonprofit organization specifically created for this purpose, as well as an honorific membership organization, the IOM was chartered in 1970 as a component of the National Academy of Sciences. The IOM site,, shows how the IOM's work is organized into 17 topic areas, including mental health, women's health, public policy, health care and quality, diseases, global health, and public health and prevention. It also posts reports that have been released from the IOM since 1998.

Association of State and Territorial Health Officials
The mission of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) is to formulate and influence national public health policy and help state health departments develop and implement programs to prevent disease. The ASTHO site,, has information about the organization's programs, its history, and its publications. There also are links to all state health departments in the country.

World Health Organization
Established in 1948, the World Health Organization (WHO) is the United Nations specialized agency for health. Its site,, provides coverage of the avian flu, emergencies, and disease outbreaks affecting different areas of the world. Additional information can be found about each member of the WHO. Visitors may also read information about international health and travel.

MedBytes is a quick look at new, or newly discovered, Web sites of interest toTexasphysicians. The column also highlights features of the TMA Web site. Publication of information about Web sites in this column is not to be considered an endorsement or approval by the TexasMedical Association of the sites or sponsors, or of any products or services involved.  


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