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Pandemic Flu / Avian (bird) Flu-the Isle of Man is prepared 8 November 2005

    The Department of Health and Social Security has announced that it has significant precautions in place in the event that there is a flu pandemic and that Manx residents should not be worried by the recent reports from Turkey and Romania of isolation of the Avian Flu Virus H5N1.

    Steve Rodan MHK, Minister for Health and Social Security said, “There is nothing more important to the DHSS than the health and well being of people living in the Isle of Man. I want to assure the public we are doing everything possible to ensure that in the event of a pandemic flu outbreak, we are very well prepared. Detailed plans are being developed to deal with the likely effects of flu in various settings. These include hospitals and community homes”

    Dr Kishore, Public Health Consultant and Pandemic Flu Co-ordinator said, “Unfortunately, there is confusion regarding Avian Flu. Avian Flu is a disease which affects birds and is not easily transmitted to humans. However, the Isle of Man has enough antiviral drugs to cover over 25% of the adult population and 50% of the child population. Not only does this exceed the World Health Organisations recommendations, it shows that the Isle of Man Health Service is prepared to deal with a possible flu pandemic, if a new flu virus emerges. This has currently not happened, and there is no pandemic at present.”

    The Isle of Man has developed plans to deal with a flu pandemic were it to arise. Our plans consist of the following:

    - Stockpile of antiviral drugs (“Tamiflu”), purchased in March with specific Tynwald authority.

    - Detailed plans are being developed to deal with people affected by the flu in various settings (Hospital, Community, Care Homes, etc).

    - Government Working Group chaired by the Chief Executive of the DHSS.

    - Vaccines: The Isle of Man has joined the Department of Health in England in placing an order for a vaccine against the avian flu virus H5N1. Although this vaccine has not been developed at present, these orders have been made to ensure that research continues.

    - The Chief Medical Officer of England has announced that everyone in England will receive the vaccine against pandemic flu, when such a vaccine is available. Isle of Man is keeping in close contact with the Department of Health in London via various channels but especially the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) which is the scientific body advising the UK Governments on vaccination issue. Dr Kishore, Public Health Consultant attends the JCVI regularly and will be made aware of any developments in the vaccine field. Isle of Man DHSS will ensure that Isle of Man residents are offered the pandemic flu vaccine at the recommended doses as soon as such a vaccine becomes available (the vaccine does not exist at present) – we will also explore the methods of rapidly delivering the vaccine to large numbers of people.

    - Links with other Agencies: The Isle of Man is keeping in close contact with other Agencies such as the DoH in England, the Health Protection Agency, the WHO, etc, to ensure that our plans are updated constantly in the light of happenings across the world.

    - Communication: Detailed communication plans are being developed. In the event of an outbreak, members of the public will be provided with clear, up-to-date information.

    Anyone who is still worried about the possible affects of Avian/Pandemic Flu should contact the Public Health Directorate on 642688

    8th November 2005

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