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Wyoming - Pandemic Preparedness

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  • Wyoming - Pandemic Preparedness

    By The Associated Press
    July 8, 2006

    Cheyenne, Wyoming -- The Wyoming Department of Health has told federal officials that the state is interested in buying the maximum possible number of doses of an anti-flu medicine to prepare for a possible pandemic.

    Photo: Dr. Brent Sherard. Source: Wyoming Health Resources Network

    But Dr. Brent Sherard, director of the health department, said he still had some reservations about buying the drug. He said Wyoming won't make a final decision on the purchase for months to come.

    The federal government is stockpiling doses of the drug Tamiflu and other medications in preparation for a possible flu pandemic.

    Sherard said federal officials have told Wyoming, which has a population of just more than 500,000, that the state is entitled to about 74,000 doses of Tamiflu from existing federal supplies.

    In addition, Sherard said the federal government is prepared to cover 25 percent of the cost if Wyoming decides to purchase an additional 52,700 doses. He said the purchase would cost Wyoming up to $800,000.

    July 1 was the original deadline for states to report to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services whether they wanted to purchase the drugs. The deadline has now been pushed back to Aug. 1.

    Sherard said his department told the federal agency that the state wants to purchase the entire available 52,700 doses. But he said the state hasn't formally ordered those doses yet and said the state has until the end of the year to solidify any order.

    Sherard said he has some concerns about ordering the drug. He said Tamiflu has a shelf life of about five years, and the state hasn't determined exactly where it would store the drug.
    "If we do order this much vaccine, even though it's matched by the federal government, we're looking at a substantial outlay of general funds," Sherard said.

    "We're still working on this problem fairly diligently," Sherard said. "I do know that the governor supports readiness with Tamiflu, as best we can."

    Sherard said Gov. Dave Freudenthal had set aside $5 million in a budget reserve account for pandemic planning. Sherard said Wyoming has the money to order the Tamiflu if it decides to follow through with the purchase.

    "What I want to be certain is that people don't place too much reliance on Tamiflu," Sherard said. The manufacturer recommends Tamiflu be started within two days of the onset of symptoms, and Sherard said in his experience the drug only shortened the duration of the illness by about a day. "So that's not a silver bullet."

    Together with the existing federal drug stockpiles, Wyoming's possible purchase of more Tamiflu would provide only enough of the drug to treat about 20 percent of Wyoming's population.

    Sherard said in any pandemic situation, only a certain percentage of people come down with the disease. "It's one of those things that's impossible to plan perfectly for," he said.

    In addition, Sherard said 52,700 doses is the most that Wyoming would be allowed to order because of heavy demand for the drug.


  • #2
    Re: Wyoming - Pandemic Preparednes

    By Sara Gandy, Web Producer. Powered by (AP)
    September 4, 2006

    Laramie, Wyo. -- The test results for the first birds sampled in Wyoming for highly pathogenic avian influenza have come back negative.

    Several government agencies began testing wild and domestic bird populations in Wyoming for the disease, which has not been found in North America.

    The first test results come from 50 Canada geese that were tested during a banding operation this June at Eden and Big Sandy Reservoirs north of Farson in southwestern Wyoming.

    The birds were tested for the H-5-N-1 strain of the disease, which has caused some human fatalities in Eastern Europe and Asia. Experts believe that if the disease enters North America, it will most likely come in through Alaska.

    The Wyoming Department of Game and Fish plans to collect about 5-hundred more samples from birds this fall from species that could have migrated from Alaska. The department will test 4-hundred migratory game birds and 1-hundred shorebirds.