County staff delivered a progress report on Tuesday regarding its emergency plan in the event of an avian flu – or any other – pandemic. The S.B. County Health Department presented a report from its Isolation and Quarantine Project team leader, Paige Batson, which outlined six phases of pandemic response. The county is now in Phase 3, which means it is on “alert” for the bird flu. Phases 4, 5, and 6 involve isolating the symptomatic and quarantining the exposed. Paige said identifying sites for quarantine is a chief priority. The avian flu has not been found in the western hemisphere, but has occurred in small pockets elsewhere with a 40 to 50 percent fatality rate. Another 18 project teams are at work clarifying legal issues, increasing disease surveillance, organizing a medical corps, establishing a command structure, and more. The county plans to conduct public outreach in every city and on public access TV once staff members are prepared to answer questions with more certainty.

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