Local Response to Avian Flu Concerns

Salisbury University is fortunate to be located in area that has taken an aggressive leadership role in planning for a possible Avian Flu outbreak. Some two years ago, a local task force addressing this issue was formed. The task force involves all four major poultry producers in the region, the Dept of Agriculture, the Agriculture labs, Maryland's Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene, Delaware's Dept of Agriculture and Health, health officers from the three lower shore counties in Maryland and Delaware, and the two Virginia counties just south of our region.

A preliminary plan is being reviewed at the state level, and has been shared, as a model program, with several other states who are also in the process of planning and preparing. The plan focuses on containment measures, depopulation procedures, protection and treatment of poultry workers and their families, and public awareness strategies. The plan builds upon the successful containment of a previous Avian Flu outbreak on the Delmarva Peninsula which was eradicated within a six month period. Other outbreaks in the US have taken as long as two years to contain.

Public Information Officers in both Maryland and Delaware have constructed public awareness and information sharing strategies should Avian flu develop in this area. Strong relationships with the poultry industry and health departments have been developed so that all feel ready to respond and have identified the roles each will play in a potential outbreak. Salisbury University's Student Health Services is working proactively to stay engaged with local health officials. SU officials are a part of the Wicomico County Emergency Preparedness Team.

On campus, the SU Emergency Preparedness Committee prepares for all natural and other disasters and is the entity to be engaged in planning and coordinating campus responses to any outbreak that may occur. Student Health Services will offer flu shots the first week in November, and will stay informed regarding the development of Avian Flu viruses and prophylactic or other treatment measures indicated for the general population.

Students, faculty and staff who may be potentially exposed to Avian flu because of internships, or other off-campus experiences will be included in the plan to prevent and contain possible exposure. Further information and frequently asked questions regarding Avian Flu can be found within our website.