March 16, 2006 — A summit to be held next week at Marriott's Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort will discuss the possible impact of pandemic influenza on the local community and national efforts to put an emergency response plan in place.
According to press releases sent by the Office of the Governor and the local Health Department, the summit, scheduled for March 23 from 9 a.m. to noon, will feature speakers such as Alex Azar, the U.S. deputy secretary of Health and Human Services, and U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, among others.
In the release, Health Commissioner Darlene Carty said the summit was organized in order to prepare Virgin Islanders for a pandemic influenza outbreak, should one occur. She said health officials are also "keeping abreast" with reports on avian flu occurrences in other parts of the world, and are getting regular updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to the CDC Web site, avian flu, or bird flu as it is commonly called, is caused by influenza viruses that occur naturally among birds. Pandemic flu, the site said, "is a virulent flu that causes a global outbreak of serious illness that spreads easily from person to person." The site further stated that pandemic influenza may cause a "major impact on society," including widespread travel restrictions, the closing of schools and businesses, and the cancellation of large public gatherings.
While the site did identify approximately seven countries in Europe and Asia in which humans have been affected by avian flu, it also said that there is currently no pandemic flu.
Speakers at the summit will address such questions as:
–does your business or organization have a plan in case of a pandemic influenza emergency?
–do you know how you will handle the change in demand for goods and services during a pandemic flu emergency?
–do you know how your business or health care organization will participate in the statewide plan for addressing a pandemic influenza emergency?
Residents interested in attending the summit may preregister at Gov. Turnbull's Web site or via e-mail.
Those who have not pre-registered can register at the summit between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. on March 23.
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