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Health Officials Discuss Flu Outbreak Procedures, Prevention

Last updated on Wednesday, July 16, 2008

(INDIANAPOLIS) - Medical professionals from 35 states met in Indianapolis to discuss the ethics of pandemic influenza planning.

A pandemic happens when a new virus appears for which we have no natural immunity or a vaccine. It spreads rapidly causing severe illness or death on a global scale.

Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Judy Monroe says an average of three pandemics occur within a hundred years, so it's not a matter of "if" we get another one, but "when" it will occur. She says planning for it is key and dealing with ethical questions is the focus of the Indianapolis summit.

During a pandemic, health care providers will focus on the greater good of a state's population rather than individual care. Ethical issues include determining who gets priority care when a pandemic breaks out.

Despite advances in technology, quarantine and social distancing will be essential to stop the spread of the virus. Large public gatherings such as football games or even church services would be prohibited or severely restricted.

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