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Laird Center for Medical Research

Roundtable Video Transcript

Pandemic possibilities

Bob Williams: Late last year and earlier this year, there was a fear of avian flu pandemic. Do any of you in the infectious disease area know or have a sense of any other disease that could materialize as a pandemic in the world? Is there something like...they didn't see, in 1918, the flu coming...are you people seeing anything in the future that might overwhelm us?

Jennifer Meece: If I had my crystal ball before me, I'd do a better job of that. I think that (brief side discussion)...I would say that, perhaps avian influenza is probably the one that most people are concerned about today. I wouldn't even venture to guess to predict the future and I would say that A.I. is really what people have their eye on today. But because of those things, I think we have a better public health infrastructure and surveillance mechanisms in place that will help us better detect things as they emerge on the horizon.

So, unfortunately, things like west nile virus came and they swept through, but they really bolstered our infrastructure so that the future emerging infectious diseases will be better prepared for.

Humberto Vidaillet, M.D.: Syndromic surveillance is one of those things in which by having the great penetrants, if you will...by providing the integrated system of health care delivery that we do, and that our friends and families benefit from, we're also able to identify the number of specific conditions. Say, gastrointestinal illness, respiratory illnesses, cutaneous illnesses on a daily basis, and we actually have some grants paid to do that. So at least, for early detection of issues...now the GIS, which is one of the things that Jennifer has mentioned, Kurt Reed and others are working to see in terms of identifying migrations and patterns. It's a tough deal, as Justin and others have mentioned. Once it happens, you have very little time.

Part of what makes us so proud of the monkey pox story, above and beyond the giant gambian rat, and the prairie dogs, is the fact that many people outside of our area don't know about it. The reason they don't know about... that it was diagnosed immediately and prevented from spreading right here. So, sometimes you take pride in what didn't happen.

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