SOURCE: American Lung Association

November 01, 2005 11:08 ET

American Lung Association on Release of the Federal Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Plan

Statement by Norman Edelman, MD Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

NEW YORK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- November 1, 2005 -- The American Lung Association is pleased that the Bush Administration has released its federal influenza pandemic preparedness plan. This is an important first step in helping the nation prepare for the possibility of a flu pandemic with significant implications for our nation and the world.

Experts have been warning us since 1997 that the avian flu strain that has killed millions of birds across Asia, and is now being seen in Russia and parts of Europe, will be especially dangerous if it becomes easily transmitted through human contact. To date, according to the World Health Organization, there have been 121 human cases reported due to direct contact with infected birds, and the death rate has been 62 percent. While the specific course of the current avian flu virus is only speculative at this time, there is the possibility of a pandemic. If this occurs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention project that the avian flu may cause over half a million deaths and two million hospitalizations in the United States. It is absolutely critical that we begin to make detailed plans at the federal, state and local level to prepare for this possibility.

While we have not had a chance to review the details of the plan, we are pleased that the Administration has put a comprehensive plan on the table and asked Congress for sufficient funding to begin preparations. We look forward to working with the Congress and the Administration, as well as state and local governments to refine and strengthen the plan.

As this process moves forward, we call upon Congress and the Administration to allocate the funds as soon as possible to get the substantive planning underway. We call on state and local governments to develop adequate plans, including communication and distribution systems to increase preparedness.

In the midst of all the concern about avian flu, now is not the time to be complacent about the common flu. The Lung Association recommends that all people get vaccinated for the common flu to curb the spread of anticipated strains of flu epidemic this season. To locate a flu clinic in your area, go to www.lungusa.org or call 1-800-LUNGUSA

For more than 100 years, the American Lung Association has served the public's interest to protect lung health and we stand ready to serve the public as we prepare for this new, and potentially catastrophic, threat.

Contact Information

  • CONTACT:
    Diane Maple
    202/785-3355
    Michelle Sawatka
    212/315-8727