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Influenza Pandemic Planning

From the Show: Staying Well
Summary: An influenza pandemic virus spreads worldwide and infects a large amount of the human population. How can you make sure you're prepared?
Air Date: 7/7/14
Duration: 10
Host: Melanie Cole, MS
Guest Bio: Jon S. Abramson, MD
Jon S AbramsDr. Jon S. Abramson received his undergraduate degree at Boston University and medical degree from Wake Forest University School of Medicine (WFUSM).

He did a pediatric residency at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and a pediatric infectious diseases fellowship at the University of Minnesota.

He joined the faculty at WFUSM in 1981 and has served as Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at WFUSM and Physician-in-Chief of Brenner Children's Hospital since 1996.

He also served as the elected Chair of the Wake Forest University Physicians clinical practice group from 2001 – 2007.

Dr. Abramson served as a council member of the Society for Pediatric Research (SPR) and was elected President of the SPR in 1995.

From 1995 – 2003 he was a member and Chair (1999 – 2003) of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on Infectious Diseases and as part of this activity was involved in the publication of the 1997, 2000 and 2003 Red Book.

From 2003 – 2007 he was a member and Chair (2005 – 2007) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

Since 2009 he has served as a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunizations (SAGE) and as of September 2013 has served as the Chair of the SAGE.

Previous roles on SAGE have included serving as the Chair of the Cholera Vaccine and the Meningococcal Vaccine working groups, as well as a member of the Rubella Vaccine and Global Vaccine Action Plan working groups. Currently he serves as the Chair of Varicella Vaccine working group and as a member of the Influenza Seasonal and Pandemic Vaccine working group.

Additionally, he serves on the Program and Policy Committee for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI).
Influenza Pandemic Planning
According to the World Health Organization, influenza is categorized as a viral infection that affects your nose, throat, bronchi and lungs. This virus can be transmitted easily from person to person and is treatable within one to two weeks.

Influenza pandemics are unpredictable and can spread rapidly without warning. This can lead to the infection affecting large parts of the population, causing panic worldwide.

The latest influenza pandemic you might remember was in 2009, known as pH1N1, which closely resembled the swine flu. According to WHO, from April 2009-April 2010, more than 214 countries contained H1NI and reported 17,919 deaths.

Even though influenza pandemics rarely happen, how do you differentiate a pandemic and epidemic?

A pandemic reaches worldwide populations, whereas an epidemic is specific to one area. This could be a city, state or country. An example of an epidemic would be seasonal outbreaks of the flu. A pandemic is also caused by a new strain of a virus or a subtype that you have little or no immunity against. This is why it is so easy to spread worldwide and cannot be contained in a specific area.

How do you plan for a pandemic?

Jon S. Abramson, MD, joins Melanie Cole, MS, to discuss influenza pandemic, how to plan for influenza pandemic and who is most affected from these pandemics.