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The Threat of Pandemic Influenza: Are We Ready? Workshop Summary


The Threat of Pandemic Influenza: Are We Ready? Workshop Summary

Institute of Medicine (US) Forum on Microbial Threats.


Research has identified three essential prerequisites for the start of a pandemic: transmission of a novel viral subtype to humans; viral replication causing disease in humans; and efficient human-to-human transmission of the virus. Since 1997, the first two prerequisites have been met on four occasions; the most recent occurred early this year in Vietnam and Thailand. With H5N1 at or near endemic levels in poultry in many parts of Asia, the world stands at the verge of pandemic and is likely to remain there for years. A recent expert consultation convened by the World Health Organization concluded that “the unpredictability of influenza viruses and the speed with which transmissibility can improve mean that the time for preparedness planning is right now.” To address these urgent concerns, the Institute of Medicine's Forum on Microbial Threats hosted a public workshop on June 16 and 17, 2004. Through invited presentations and discussions among participants, the workshop informed the Forum, the public, and policy makers of the likelihood of an influenza pandemic and explored issues critical to the preparation and protection of the global community. Topics and questions considered during the workshop's presentations and discussions included the following: Learning from the past - pandemics and other threats to public health; Global preparations against pandemic influenza; Preparing the United States for pandemic influenza; State and local preparation measures; Strategies to prevent and control transmission in birds and other animals; Biomedical approaches to preventing or controlling a pandemic; Legal issues in pandemic prevention and control; Improving preparedness: surveillance, prediction, and communication.

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Grant support

This project was supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health (Contract No. N01-OD-4-2139, TO#129), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (200-2000-00629, TO#25), and Food and Drug Administration; U.S. Agency for International Development; U.S. Department of Defense (Contract No. DAMD-17-03-P- 1331), U.S. Department of State; U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (V101(93)P-2159); U.S. Department of Agriculture; American Society for Microbiology; Aventis Pasteur; Burroughs Wellcome Fund; Pfizer; GlaxoSmithKline; and The Merck Company Foundation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the organizations or agencies that provided support for this project.