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H1N1 Pandemic Precautions for Front Line Workers
Date:5/14/2009

WASHINGTON, May 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- If the H1N1 pandemic flu follows the pattern of the 1918 Great Pandemic it could come back with more vigor in a second wave next fall. In 1918, three separate recurrences of influenza followed each other with unusual rapidity, resulting in 3 explosive pandemic waves within a year's time. Dr. Thomas O'Brien, Vice President of the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics and Microbiology Lab Director at Brigham and Women's Hospital stated this concern on May 14th before a Congressional Subcommittee, chaired by Congressman Stephen Lynch from the 9th district of Massachusetts.

Congressman Lynch called the hearing to consider how to protect federal workers who are first responders during flu epidemics. "I want to be sure we have good procedures in place to ensure the safety of federal workers and the public at large."

The work of APUA is given a special relevance to this danger by recent evidence that secondary bacterial infection was a major contributor to the 1918 influenza death rate and by recent changes in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Because of overuse of related antibiotics, MRSA has spread widely in the community in recent years and on multiple occasions has acquired resistance to vancomycin, the drug that has been relied on for treating it. "MRSA will thus be a very likely major contributor to the mortality of future influenza infections, and preventing its further acquisition of antibiotic resistances is necessary to keep those infections from becoming untreatable," according to Dr. O'Brien of APUA.

The best defense is to ensure funding for strong state and federal public health programs, said Dr. O'Brien. He complimented Dr. Richard Besser, acting Director of the CDC and Dr. Alfred DeMaria, Director of Communicable Disease Control of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for their epidemiology investigations and effective
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SOURCE Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics (APUA)
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