Iowa public health officials say they’ve updated the plans for a state response should Iowa birds or people contract Avian flu. But Department of Public Health director Mary Mincer Hansen says it’s not time for panic.
Mincer Hansen says Avian flu has not yet spread from person-to-person. “So I would be much more concerned if I were an Iowan about the current flu and doing the things they can do to protect themselves,” Mincer Hansen says. She has some advice for Iowans, and you’ve heard it often: wash your hands often and cover your mouth when you cough.
Mincer Hansen also says eating a health diet, exercising and cutting down the stress in your life can help you ward off illness. She says scientists don’t know whether Avian flu will mutate into a strain that can be spread person-to-person. “It is inevitable that at some point in time…we will have another pandemic,” Mincer Hansen says. “Whether or not it will be caused by an Avian influenza or another type of influenza, no one can predict.” Avian flu has been discovered in birds in Europe and Asia, and has spread from the birds to a few humans in Southeast Asia.
Mincer Hansen says for several years state officials have been drafting and redrafting a plan to respond to a widespread outbreak of a strain of the flu and, with the discovery of the Avian flu, they’ve accelerated their planning in the past year. Mincer Hansen says one of her concerns is that the federal government provide enough money to states to respond to a pandemic.
President Bush will speak tomorrow (Tuesday) to brief the country on what federal officials have done to prepare for an outbreak of “bird” flu in the U.S. Find more state-specific information about public health preparation on-line at www.protectiowahealth.org. If there were to be bird flu in Iowa, state or local health officials could order quarantines.