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Avian Flu: Is the Campus Ready?
Campus team to develop a university plan and procedures designed to minimize the pandemic's impact and reduce the spread across campus.

April 20, 2006
by Valerie Orleans

With media attention focused on the avian, or bird, flu, discussions have begun on what would happen at Cal State Fullerton if the pandemic should strike Southern California.

A campus team with representatives from Student Health and Counseling, Academic Affairs, Risk Management, Public Safety and other departments are gathering on a regular basis to discuss university actions to a potential worldwide pandemic.

The goal is to develop a campus-specific plan and procedures designed to minimize the pandemic’s impact on campus operations, reduce the spread of the virus and to protect faculty and staff members and students. Included are plans for Web-based instruction if campus access needs to be restricted.

Since it was first identified in 1997, the H5N1 virus had been confined to birds in China and Southeast Asia, but recent reports have indicated that the virus is spreading to birds in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Experts estimate that the virus could arrive in the U.S. by the end of this year. While work is in process on a vaccine, it could take anywhere from one to three years to produce an effective vaccine.

The campus has appointed Tom Whitfield, director of environmental health and safety, to serve as pandemic manager to monitor health and safety issues related to this potential crisis.

“We in no way want to alarm members of our campus community but we do want to be prepared in case there are problems related to this strain of flu,” said Whitfield. “As we develop our plans, we will make sure to publicize them so that our campus can take any needed precautions and be aware of potential dangers.”

More information on the avian flu and the campus’s preparations can be found on the emergency preparedness website.

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