Health Officials Prepare for Pandemic Flu Outbreak

Texas has $6 million to prepare for a pandemic flu outbreak and East Texas health care workers aren't wasting any time. Those workers will spend the next few weeks educating the public about the Avian flu and how to get ready for it.

Muriel Bertsch, Central I.S.D. nurse, said, "I think as a community, we will be better prepared once we all are on the same page and I think that's the good thing. Am I scared? No, because I think if we're educated, we'll be able to meet the need."

The Angelina County & Cities Health District, Pineywoods Area Health Education Center, and UT School of Public Health hope to have a complete plan in four months. That plan will serve as a model for other areas across the state. After the information sessions, AHEC will follow up and make sure schools, businesses, churches, and other groups are able to meet specific needs during an outbreak.

Kinnie Parker, AHEC coordinator, said, "I think some people are getting desensitized to it, hearing it every day. It kind of gets shoved into their mind. We're trying to bring it to the forefront so that they will do a few simple things to prepare themselves."

You can't stop the pandemic flu from coming to America, but there are some things you can do to prepare for it. Protect yourself from the flu by getting vaccinated. Wash your hands regularly or use a hand sanitizer with alcohol, because alcohol kills germs. Try not to get too close to sick people and if you're ill, stay home from work or school so you won't make anyone else sick. You should also always cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.

Preparing for a Pandemic Flu Outbreak is also the topic of next month's First Friday luncheon in Lufkin. For more information, you can call the Angelina County Chamber of Commerce at (936) 634-6644.