Pandemics are a source of concern to any society in the contemporary world. They can either be man-made or natural. Regardless of their type, disasters pose a risk to human life and property. Avian flu is one such form of natural disaster that can wreck havoc in the society.
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Also known as the avian influenza, the condition is brought about by naturally occurring viruses. The micro-organisms (Type A virus), are usually found in wild aquatic birds, domestic poultry, and other animal and bird species (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2014).
In this paper, the author reviews two emergency scenarios involving avian flu outbreaks. In the first case, an occurrence of the pandemic in Chicago is analyzed. The parties in command of the response to the outbreak, as well as the coordination of activities of the various state and local agencies are some of the issues addressed in this scenario. In the second case, an outbreak in the larger state of Illinois is outlined.
The author of this paper recommends several epidemic control steps to deal with the issue. The legal authorities involved in the response plan, as well as various factors that determine the success of the proposed plan, are some of the other areas analyzed in this section.
An Emergency Scenario in Chicago, Illinois
Under normal circumstances, avian flu does not affect humans. However, the virus can cause a serious pandemic if it finds its way into the human population.
Such a case was reported in the 1918 ‘Spanish flu’ epidemic. Healthcare providers in Chicago have noted a growing number of individuals seeking health services as a result of symptoms associated with avian flu. After a careful follow-up, the authorities have determined that an influenza pandemic is developing.
Taking Charge of the Incident
The Illinois Department of Public Health would command the avian flu response initiative. The agency is tasked with the responsibility of addressing health issues in the state.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would be responsible for the coordination and the overall federal response to the avian flu (Homeland Security Council [HSC], 2007). The commanding status of DHS is strengthened through the appointment of pre-designated Principal Federal Officials (PFO), as well as regional PFOs, responsible for the coordination of influenza responses.
Coordinating Resources and Working Together
The management of the federal, state, and local resources determines the effectiveness of the response mechanism. The U.S. Government provides state and local authorities with guidance on the best pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical interventions to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic.
The federal and state authorities are expected come up with the best interventional measures to deal with the emergency. On their part, the local authorities play the role of implementing these proposals at the community level. The major role of the federal authorities is to fund the program (HSC, 2007).
The state and local agencies ensure that the hospitals and the emergency departments have the capacity to handle the large number of patients affected by the condition. There are other issues that the two authorities need to deal with. For example, they need to provide healthcare workers with the necessary protective gear.
They should also provide them with the information needed to handle the situation, together with the necessary materials and infrastructure (HSC, 2007). Given this scenario, the state and local authorities would be liable if anything happens to the personnel implementing the relief programs.
Laws, Rules, and Regulations Important for the Response
The Emergency Federal Law Enforcement Assistance would be essential in handling the pandemic. The regulation falls under the Justice Assistance Act of 1984 (HSC, 2007). It calls for maximum assistance from the U.S. Government. Other rules and regulations would be specific to the non-pharmaceutical measures of dealing with the pandemic.
Addressing a Localized Cluster of Phase 5 Pandemic
Recommended Epidemic Control Steps
There are several control measures that can be put in place to deal with an outbreak that is restricted to a Chicago cluster. The primary control strategies for addressing the avian flu pandemic include prophylaxis among the individuals exposed to the virus. The strategy can be achieved through the use of antiviral medications, vaccinations, and the adoption of infection control and social distancing measures (Tyshenko, 2007).
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It is not possible to develop a matching vaccine within a short duration to respond to the scenario. As such, social distancing and infection control measures are more appropriate.
Voluntary home quarantines, dismissal of students from schools, isolated treatment for the infected, and other non-pharmaceutical interventions are recommended (Department of Health and Human Services & Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007).
Invoking Legal Authorities to Respond to the Emergency
Such legal authorities as the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S. Code 264), which falls under section 361, may be evoked to help in dealing with the situation.
Applying the laws would facilitate isolation and quarantine efforts by the federal government (CDC, 2014). The act supports the enforcement of measures necessary for prevention of entry and spread of communicable diseases in the country. The federal government, through the various federal agencies, prepares and encourages communities, organizations, and businesses to deal with such outbreaks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention might be forced to exercise its authority under section 42 Code of Federal Regulations (CDC, 2014). The code authorizes the agency to detain, medically examine, and release individuals arriving in the U.S. The persons who are taken through these procedures are those suspected of carrying infections. In most cases, travelers from regions hit by the avian influenza are more likely to carry the virus and infect people in other regions (CDC, 2014).
Factors Affecting the Success of the Proposed Plan
The success of the avian flu response plan would depend on various factors. One of them is the effective coordination of resources between the federal, state, and local authorities.
In addition, enhancing the accountability of the various authorities in carrying out their mandate would facilitate effectiveness in the response initiative. Failure to synchronizing the activities of the assisting personnel would jeopardize the entire process. Organization is very important, regardless of the level of expertise among the personnel or the complexity of the equipment used.
The federal government would be expected to provide the necessary support to the individuals and agencies involved in responding to the emergency. For example, the state’s Department of Public Health should effectively manage, supervise, and control the activities of all the stakeholders involved in the initiative. The major responsibility of local authorities would be to enhance cooperation from members of the public.
Possibilities of Effectively Controlling the Outbreak
Effectual coordination and definition of duties, as indicated above, would help to control the epidemic. Currently, the avian flu pandemic is at phase 5. Under such conditions, the proposed plan is likely to contain the epidemic, making sure that it does not deteriorate to phase 6.
The Adequacy of the Government’s Plan
The national government’s strategy to deal with the outbreak of, together with the efforts made by the Illinois’ Emergency Management Agency, appears adequate enough to deal with the problem. The authorities acknowledge the need for non-pharmaceutical and social distancing measures as immediate responses. For this reason, the efforts seem sufficient enough.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Seasonal influenza (flu): Information on avian influenza. Web.
Department of Health and Human Services, & Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2007). Interim pre-pandemic planning guidance: Community strategy for pandemic influenza mitigation in the United States- Early, targeted, layered use of non-pharmaceutical interventions. Web.
Homeland Security Council. (2007). National strategy for pandemic influenza: Implementation plan one year summary. Web.
Tyshenko, M. (2007). Management of natural and bioterrorism induced pandemics. Bioethics, 21(7), 364-369.