State Uses Web to Plan for Flu Pandemic

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s (KDHE) efforts to plan for a flu pandemic were selected to be included in, an online database of promising practices launched September 24 by two nationally renowned organizations, the Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota and the Pew Center on the States (PCS), a division of The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Compiled as a resource to save communities and states time and resources, the database enables public health professionals to learn about KDHE’s efforts. The material can be used to enhance state and local plans to prepare for pandemic influenza.

KDHE has developed the Community Disease Containment Toolbox, a document that provides information resources to help local public health personnel contain the spread of potential pandemic influenza viruses. The Community Disease Containment Toolbox was developed in partnership with the Kansas Association of Local Health Departments (KALHD) and the Kansas Association of Counties (KAC).

“The Community Disease Containment Toolbox is a tremendous example of what state and local government, including public health agencies, can do when we pull together and work as a team,” stated Roderick L. Bremby, Secretary of KDHE.

The toolbox is supported by two additional documents. The KDHE Analysis and Guidance Plan for Pandemic Influenza Mitigation provides recommendations for containing pandemic influenza, utilizing the national pandemic severity index, as well as the Kansas strategy for a response. The Kansas Pandemic Influenza Standard Operating Guide outlines procedures for local agencies to plan and prepare for an influenza pandemic utilizing the resources provided in the toolbox.

Kansas’s approach is one of more than 130 practices submitted from four countries, 22 states and 30 communities nationwide. It was chosen by peer-reviewers -- 27 public health experts -- for the online database. The database will allow cities, counties, states, hospitals, clinics, and community organizations to save time and resources by adapting promising approaches created by their peers in three key areas: altering standards of clinical care, communicating effectively about pandemic flu, and delaying and diminishing the impact of a pandemic.

Users can easily find practices applicable to their communities. The database can be searched by state or topic, as well as by area of special interest, such as materials translated into multiple languages, materials for vulnerable populations, or toolkits for schools.

“We’ve worked very hard to develop guidance that will serve Kansas well in the event of pandemic influenza,” said Dr. Howard Rodenberg, Director of the KDHE Division of Health and State Health Officer. “We are extremely excited that other states will now have the opportunity to benefit from those efforts.”

According to one estimate, pandemic influenza could cause 2,500 deaths, 5,000 hospitalizations, 500,000 outpatient visits, and 1 million people to become ill in Kansas.

Every winter, seasonal flu kills approximately 36,000 Americans and hospitalizes more than 200,000. Occasionally, a new flu virus emerges for which people have little or no immunity. Such a virus will spread worldwide, causing illnesses and deaths far beyond the impact of seasonal flu, in an event known as a pandemic.

A severe flu pandemic will last longer, sicken more people and cause more death and disruption than any other health crisis. In addition to the human toll, a flu pandemic will take a serious financial toll. One report predicts a range – from a global cost of approximately $330 billion in a mild pandemic scenario, to $4.4 trillion worldwide under a 1918-like scenario.