The Pandemic Future

June 30, 2009


In April 2009, a new strain of influenza was identified. This strain, novel H1N1, or 'swine flu' first appeared in Mexico and has quickly spread around the globe. On June 11, the World Health Organization officially declared the outbreak to be a pandemic. While not particularly severe, the quick spread of 'swine flu' and the widespread media attention it received has prompted worry over the potential impact of a pandemic on our health and society.

As of June 30th, there were more than 70,000 cases of confirmed 'swine flu' worldwide. In New York, there have been more than 2000 confirmed cases. The Southern Hemisphere is just entering its flu season, and many health departments, from the local level to the global level, will be watching for any indication of how widespread and virulent this particular strain may be.

Locally, governments are reviewing emergency preparedness plans to be ready for a potential outbreak. The New York State Health Department, along with local government, have released several fact documents in an effort to educate the general population on the novel H1N1 strain and what precautions to take to avoid it. On this episode of Community Conversation, we'll discuss those plans with representatives from the Broome County Health Department. Also, we'll discuss some of the other infectious diseases that scientists are concerned about on a global level.

Listeners can join in the conversation by phoning 1-888-359-9754 or sending an e-mail to CommunityConversation@WSKG.ORG to share their ideas and get answers to their questions.

Ben Krakauer, Emergency Preparedness Coordination for the Broome County Health Department; Mari Yourdan, Communicable Disease Nurse for the Broome County Health Department; and Dr. Laura Harrington, medical entomologist at Cornell University.