Obama cabinet members meet Thursday for H1N1 preparedness summit

"The White House, months before flu season, will roll out the big guns Thursday for a swine flu preparedness summit, underscoring the importance the Obama administration is placing on the pandemic," CNN reports.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and National Security Adviser John Brennan are expected to attend sessions held at the NIH.

"The goal of the summit is to launch a national influenza campaign by bringing federal, state and local officials, emergency managers, educators and others together with the nation's public health experts to build on and tailor states' existing pandemic plans, share lessons learned and best practices during the spring and summer H1N1 wave, and discuss preparedness priorities," Sebelius said in a statement (7/9).  "I want to be clear: This summit is not about raising alarms or stoking fears. It is about being prepared. We must avoid complacency," she added.

"No longer do many public health experts warn of the new virus' 'return' in the fall. Summer's heat and humidity usually chase away influenza, but the swine flu has never left. Children are spreading it in summer camps, and U.S. deaths have reached 170," the AP/Google.com writes, adding, "In the U.S., even if the virus doesn't mutate to become more dangerous, greater spread is considered inevitable as students return to crowded classrooms and temperatures drop — and regular winter flu makes its own return."

"This fall, it's daunting, all that will be required," said Paul Jarris, executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. "At the top of his worry list is finding enough workers for two vaccination campaigns" to offer protection for the seasonal and H1N1 flu, AP/Google.com writes.

HealthDay/U.S. News & World Report Examine Tamiflu-Resistant H1N1

HealthDay/U.S. News & World Report reports on what health experts are saying about the three reported cases of Tamiflu-resistant H1N1. Though doctors agree that antiviral resistance is common, there is one "troubling aspect" to resistance developments: "One of the people who fell ill had had no known contact with Tamiflu," HealthDay/U.S. News & World Report writes. "This is a little bit more disturbing," said John Treanor, professor of medicine and of microbiology and immunology at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, adding, "It seems to be a spontaneously arising virus. How did that happen?" Treanor goes on to offer two theories behind the emergence of the mutated H1N1. "There has been speculation that overuse of the drug has contributed to the new drug resistance but, at this point, that is another unknown, and people who fall ill do need to be treated," HealthDay/U.S. News & World Report writes (Gardner, 7/8).

H1N1 Hits U.S. Military Base In Afghanistan

In related news, the Afghan Health Ministry confirmed Wednesday that fourteen U.S. citizens living on a military base just north of Kabul, Afghanistan, were recently discovered to have the H1N1 flu – "the second confirmed cases in three months," Reuters reports. According to an Afghan health ministry spokesperson, all of the patients "were treated and have recovered and returned to work" (Burch, 7/8).

Kaisernetwork.orgThis article is republished with kind permission from our friends at The Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery of in-depth coverage of health policy developments, debates and discussions. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for Kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Copyright 2009 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.


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