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For Immediate Release: May 15, 2007
Contact: Division of Media Relations
404-639-3286



U.S. Preparedness to Respond to Avian Influenza A (H5N1) Strengthened by CDC/CSTE Partnership

New three-day training course released online today May 15, 2007

Atlanta –A three-day training course which provides a standardized curriculum to state and local public-health responders about how to identify and control human infections and illness associated with avian influenza A (H5N1) is being released on-line today. The course, entitled "CDC/CSTE Rapid Response Training: The Role of Public Health in a Multi-Agency Response to Avian Influenza in the United States" is the result of a partnership between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE). The course is available at http://www.cste.org/influenza/avian.asp.

"We are pleased to release a new avian influenza training program that our state and local public-health partners can use to train rapid response teams," says Joshua Mott, an epidemiologist in CDC’s Influenza Division who led the training development project. The training focuses on human health issues during an avian influenza investigation. Through lectures, reference materials and case studies, the course provides mechanisms to facilitate discussion and planning among people who may be called on to respond to avian influenza A (H5N1) in the United States.

To date, no H5N1 cases in birds or humans have been found in the United States or any other country in the Western Hemisphere. However, in parts of Asia, Africa and Europe, the H5N1 virus has caused widespread infections and deaths in poultry and 291 human illnesses, resulting in 172 deaths. Public-health officials around the world consider H5N1 to be the greatest current pandemic influenza threat.

Background: The CDC and CSTE worked with educators at the North Carolina Center for Public Health Preparedness to develop the curriculum for on-line release. The on-line version was modified from regional "train the trainer" courses that were conducted in early 2007 in Washington D.C.; Denver, CO; and Atlanta, GA. These regional courses included 295 participants and facilitators and represented local and state health agencies, federal agencies, including CDC and United States Department of Agriculture, and representatives from the wildlife protection and agricultural sectors, public-health laboratories, public-health veterinarians, nursing and industry. Training was provided to representatives of all 50 states; several large U.S. cities including Washington, D.C., Seattle, WA, Chicago, IL, Houston, TX and New York City, NY; and Puerto Rico, American Samoa and the Virgin Islands. A key component of the training was coordination between veterinary and human public-health agencies at the federal, state and local level.

"The unique aspect of the training is that it brings together human and animal health professionals, who would work together as part of a multidisciplinary response to an avian influenza threat," says Mott. "Importantly, this training program also teaches public-health response skills that are applicable to other emerging diseases."

CDC provided $2 million in funding to CSTE to support development of the materials, to support the in-person trainings, to adapt the materials for on-line access, and to assist states in replicating the response training in their states using this curriculum.

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