FLU NEWS SCAN: Grading federal pandemic plans, H7N3 in Mexico

Aug 2, 2012

GAO: Fed agencies' pandemic plans progressing but still have gaps
Federal agencies have made steady but uneven progress in their influenza pandemic planning efforts over the last 3 years, according to a new report from the US Government Accountability Office (GAO). As a follow-up to its 2009 progress report and as requested by Congress, the GAO found that 23 of 24 agencies have completed action-based pandemic plans, compared with 20 in 2009, says the report, which was released Aug 1 but is dated Jul 25. The GAO also said that all 24 federal agencies developed policies such as telecommuting to reduce employees' risk of contracting influenza and outlined plans for distributing hygiene supplies. Among shortcomings noted, however, were that only nine agencies have classified all or most jobs for on-site mission-essential functions by exposure risk level. The GAO also wrote, "There is limited oversight of agencies' progress to protect their employees during a pandemic." It recommended that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provide additional oversight of pandemic preparedness efforts and help focus attention on areas of uneven progress. The GAO said the DHS agreed with its recommendations.
Aug 1 GAO report
GAO report highlights

New H7N3 outbreaks in Mexico affect almost 18,000 poultry
Three new H7N3 avian flu outbreaks on Mexican poultry farms have infected almost 18,000 birds and killed 3,000, according to a report filed today with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The outbreaks, all in Jalisco state, which has been battling the avian flu strain since mid June, totaled 17,854 cases, including 3,000 fatal ones. All three outbreaks began Jul 26 on farms near the city of Teocaltiche and may still be ongoing. In the OIE report, Mexico's National Food Quality, Food Safety and Health Service said it has tested 17,111 poultry samples and isolated 41 H7N3 viruses as part of its outbreak follow-up surveillance. Since the outbreak began, almost 5 million birds have died from the disease or been culled to prevent further transmission.
Aug 2 OIE report

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