County prepares for killer fluBy Michelle Durand
An avian flu pandemic could hospitalize 10,000 San Mateo County residents with half likely dying, according to a preparedness plan asking officials to approve $300,000 for prevention and response action.
The county has already spent $20,000 to identify basic preparation needs and now health officials want the Board of Supervisors to OK another $300,000 to flesh out the plan and hold practice drills over the next two years.
The board will accept the report and consider the funding request next Tuesday afternoon.
Influenza, more commonly known as the flu, is a viral disease attacking the respiratory tract in humans. The flu is a typical winter ailment but can prove serious or even deadly in the young, those over the age of 65 or prone to sickness.
Avian flu doesn't easily spread from birds to humans but the threat of a pandemic is quite real, according to the county health department report.
The report estimates that of San Mateo County's 750,000 residents, 262,500 could become infected if a pandemic emerges. Of those, 3.8 percent would be hospitalized and half risk death.
The county began working on its plan last fall. In November, the federal government issued its plan as a template for local action.
If approved, the plan will include practice drills, public information campaigns and coordination with hospitals and health facilities to assess and treat patients.
The governor included a $16 million proposal for flu preparedness in his budget but local officials aren't clear how much may trickle this way.
Copyright ©2006 San Mateo Daily Journal. Published 04/27/2006.