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Americas Preparations For Flu Outbreak Still Incomplete

d across the country still needs considerable work, officials said. Just to be brutally honest, we have a lot of trouble determining when we have an outbreak of disease in a community here in the U.S., Dr. Venkayya said. We need to have uniform biosurveillance capability to prepare not only for a pandemic, but any outbreak of infectious disease.

Accordingly, the nation also has little extra capacity in its hospitals and other health care facilities to deal with a huge surge in need that would accompany a mass disease outbreak. And the government has little ability to ensure that during an outbreak, when many workers would stay home, limited Internet capacity would go to essential work and not to children playing video games, officials said.

Eighty-six percent of the tasks that were to be completed this year under the presidents flu plan have been finished, officials said. The remaining 14 percent of those should be done by the end of the year, Dr. Venkayya said. A significant remaining challenge, officials said, is that the country has grown tired of pandemic flu warnings. They emphasized that the planning would help prepare for any disease outbreak, whether from natural causes or a terrorist attack.

Jeff Levi, executive director of Trust for Americas Health, a nonprofit organization dedicated to disease prevention, praised the administrations flu preparations. This report demonstrates that the federal government has made major strides in preparedness for a pandemic, Mr. Levi said. But as the administration also recognizes, there is still a long way to go before all levels of government and all sectors of society are fully prepared.


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