12/28/07 — County flu workshop planned

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County flu workshop planned

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 28, 2007 1:57 PM

The possibility of a pandemic flu epidemic has prompted local officials to schedule a community workshop in the new year.

The Wayne County Influenza Work Group, comprised of representatives from several area health agencies, has been working for over a year in preparation for an epidemic strike.

Now it's time to go public, said David Hesselmeyer, bioterrorism coordinator with Wayne County Health Department.

"We decided to get speakers here, to educate and dispel rumors," he said. "We want to make sure people plan for this in the best way they can."

"Pandemic Influenza: The Basics" will be offered to the public, free of charge, with two presentations on Monday, Feb. 4, in Moffatt Auditorium at Wayne Community College. Times will be 9-11 a.m. and 6-8 p.m.

Topics covered will include animals and influenza, humans and influenza and what Wayne County agencies are doing to prepare for a pandemic, Hesselmeyer said.

"We want to let people know we're planning for that kind of situation," he said.

Dr. Bruce Akers, a veterinarian with the N.C. Department of Agriculture, will address the issue as it pertains to animals.

"A lot of animals carry the influenza virus," explained Hesselmeyer. "We wanted to make sure people know how to protect themselves and what the Department of Agriculture and others are doing."

Brant Goode, a prevention epidemiologist with the Center for Disease Control, assigned to the Department of Health and Human Services, will cover the topic of humans and influenza, providing general information about the influenza virus and its subtypes, Hesselmeyer said.

"A lot of people are knowledgeable about seasonal flu," he said. "A pandemic flu will be different."

Hesselmeyer and Jeff Brogneaux of Wayne Memorial Hospital will round out the session. Education and awareness are key, Hesselmeyer said.

"We'll give citizens an idea of what the influenza group is, what we have been doing, how we're working on it ... if this happens, it's going to take us all, as agencies and citizens, to work together to dispel any aspects of this," he said.

For more information, contact Hesselmeyer at 731-1328 or Brogneaux at 731-6954.