Monday, July 10, 2006

Municipalities now winging it on bird flu - Allison M. Heinrichs, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW

When it comes to preparing people for the next flu pandemic, Don Pepe heaves a deep sigh. "I don't even know what I don't know," said Pepe, borough manager for Zelienople, Butler County. "I don't know what resources I need." He's not alone. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review surveyed municipalities and school districts in Western Pennsylvania and found that only one school district and one municipality have pandemic flu response plans, even though the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has warned that when the next pandemic hits, communities cannot rely on federal or state governments for help. "A pandemic is different than disasters like Hurricane Katrina," U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said in March at a flu summit held in Pittsburgh. "State and federal governments will all be hit just as hard at the same time, and won't be able to immediately help local communities. Local preparedness is vital."


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