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Published: Friday, 4/28/2006

Wood County hopes to spread word on bird flu

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BOWLING GREEN - Wood County residents as well as business and school officials are invited to attend a series of forums aimed at educating people about bird flu and how to protect themselves.

The Wood County Pandemic Influenza Task Force, which includes representatives of the county health department, Wood County Hospital, and the county's Emergency Management Agency, are sponsoring the meetings, which will be held next month in Perrysburg and Bowling Green.

"Our presentation will talk about the difference in seasonal, avian, and pandemic influenza, its status right now, why we're concerned, and what Ohio and Wood County are doing," said Pat Snyder, public health information technology specialist for the health department.

While businesses and schools will be encouraged to plan for a possible pandemic and side effects such as high absenteeism, individuals also can develop home preparedness plans, she said.

"We'll be talking about storing supplies and thinking about how you would deal with caring for a sick relative, especially if there's an elderly parent who lives alone and the kids live several hours away - how would you deal with that," she said.

Nationwide, state and lo-cal health officials are being urged to prepare for a bird-flu outbreak.

A strain of flu that infects birds, so far primarily in Asia, has been transmitted in rare cases to humans. And the virus resembles a deadly 1918 flu virus that killed some 50 million people worldwide.

To date, 204 people in Asia or Europe have been infected by the latest strain of bird flu and 113 have died.

Ms. Snyder said that if the bird flu got to the stage where it could be transmitted from human to human - it's not at that stage now - health officials could be forced to close schools and other public places to slow its spread.

The forums will be from:

w●7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Wood County Hospital, 950 West Wooster St.

w●7 to 9 p.m. May 15 at the W.W. Knight Nature Preserve at East River and White roads in Perrysburg Township.

Forums for businesses and schools will be:

w●1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the hospital.

w●1:30 to 3:30 p.m. May 17 at the Knight Preserve.

Ms. Snyder said each of the presentations will last about an hour, with an hour-long question-and-answer session to follow.

Contact Jennifer Feehan

at jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-353-5972.



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