In this issue of American Family Physician, Juckett provides an excellent review of the background, history, and clinical presentation of avian influenza.1 He also gives practical tips for preparing for a potential pandemic. With surveillance measures currently in place worldwide, our knowledge of the location, spread, and mutation of avian influenza A (H5N1) is evolving constantly. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) is committed to helping its members prepare for pandemic influenza and recognizes the different roles that must be addressed. AAFP members are not only physicians, but also employers, educators, and community leaders.
In an effort to provide up-to-date information, the AAFP has developed a Web site to deliver practical tools for busy physicians (https://www.aafp.org/online/en/home/clinical/disasterprep/pandemicflu.html). The site offers pandemic influenza resources and provides links to several other organizations. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Web site for avian influenza (http://www.pandemicflu.gov) provides information on legislation about planning and preparedness, as well as press releases, articles, and editorials. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov) periodically publishes a newsletter on pandemic influenza and assessments of the current situation. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides international updates, and its Web site (http://www/who.org) shows a map of countries with confirmed cases of H5N1 infection. A video presentation and archived forum discussion also may be accessed.
The AAFP Web site includes two documents listing strategies that physicians can implement if the threat of pandemic influenza escalates. The first document outlines immunization recommendations, surveillance criteria, when and to whom suspected cases of pandemic influenza infection should be reported, and detailed information on specimen collection and transport.2 This document also addresses prevention and includes a guide for persons caring for an infected patient in the home. The second document lists equipment and supplies necessary for the evaluation of patients with suspected avian influenza infection, information on educating staff and patients, and practical suggestions for evaluating patients with acute respiratory symptoms in areas where pandemic influenza is suspected or confirmed.3
It is important to be aware of developments as they arise, and in the event of an outbreak, each of us must have a reliable source for the most current information. The AAFP Web site meets that need.