Ready or not, a flu pandemic is coming, says Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Gerberding talked about preparing for the pandemic threat at a national conference Thursday at Logistics Health in La Crosse. No one knows when the pandemic is coming or what strain of flu virus will cause it, but it is overdue, she said.
She said she has only two meetings a week at the CDC and one focuses on flu pandemic preparations. “We take it very seriously,” Gerberding said, adding that the national strategy is to “save lives and sustain a civil society” during a pandemic.
She said politicians are not talking about a flu pandemic or the bird flu virus, which may or may not be the virus that causes the next pandemic.
“No one is talking about it, and it’s not on their radar screen,” Gerberding said.
She said CDC officials are closely monitoring the bird flu virus, which has a death rate of 63 percent among the 385 cases reported worldwide since 2003.
“It is a moving target, and we have to stay on top of it,” Gerberding said.
She said CDC scientists have created a potential vaccine in case the virus develops into a pandemic strain and are conducting more research to develop a vaccine. They have recreated the virus that caused the 1918 flu pandemic to better understand it.
Gerberding said organizations and corporations need to come up with preparedness plans and confront the impact of a flu pandemic. Some people believe a pandemic won’t happen, while others feel too overwhelmed to do anything, she said.