Health Experts Come Together to Address Pandemic, Avian Influenza, Outline the Outlook of Infectious Diseases Threats and Strategies for Containment

Jul 11, 2007, 01:00 ET from National Foundation for Infectious Diseases

    WASHINGTON, July 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An update on the
 government's avian and pandemic influenza preparedness efforts was given
 today by leading infectious disease experts from around the country at a
 news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The news
 conference, sponsored by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
 (NFID), addressed key issues and developments in the control and prevention
 of emerging infectious diseases, as well as highlighted global health risks
 of foodborne and water-related illnesses and the threat of multi-drug
 resistant tuberculosis.
     "Emerging, and in some cases re-emerging, infectious diseases, notably
 avian and pandemic influenza, pose a very serious threat to the nation's
 public health," said Susan J. Rehm, MD, NFID Medical Director and Vice
 Chair, Department of Infectious Disease, at the Cleveland Clinic. "As
 health care professionals, we need to continue to identify these threats
 and take the necessary steps to respond quickly and effectively."
     Addressing the prospect of an influenza pandemic, Carole A. Heilman,
 PhD, director, division of microbiology and infectious diseases, at the
 National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National
 Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Health and Human Services
 discussed how NIAID is leading efforts to help bolster the nation's
 pandemic influenza preparedness, including activities exploring cell-based
 vaccines; expanding the domestic capacity for influenza vaccines;
 developing point-of-care diagnostics; supporting influenza antivirals; and
 advancing surge capacity for producing H5N1 vaccines. "NIAID is exploring
 all avenues to ensure that the infrastructure is in place to act on an
 influenza pandemic in this country," stated Dr. Heilman. NIAID is the lead
 NIH institute for pandemic influenza preparedness efforts.
     Additional topics discussed at the 12th Richard J. Duma/NFID Annual
 News Conference and Symposium on Infectious Diseases included:
     -- New Therapeutic Regimens in the Fight Against Multi-drug Resistant
        Tuberculosis:  Michael D. Iseman, MD, professor of medicine, National
        Jewish Medical Center and Research Center in Denver, Colorado,
        discussed the threat of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis and new
        therapeutic strategies to help address the growing need to control
        tuberculosis and reduce barriers to accessing these regimens.
     "Since the introduction of the fluorquinolones in the 1980's there have
 been no significant advances in the treatment of tuberculosis," stated Dr.
 Iseman. "With the emergence of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, this is a
 critical juncture in our efforts to control this disease."
     -- Vaccine Financing Issues:  Jerome O. Klein, MD, professor of pediatrics
        at Boston University School of Medicine, discussed the rising costs of
        vaccines in this country and concerns regarding continued access to
        safe and effective vaccines.
     -- Foodborne and Water-related Diseases: A National and Global Update:
        James M. Hughes, MD, professor of medicine and public health, Rollins
        School of Public Health at Emory University, the director of the Emory
        Program in Global Infectious Diseases and the Emory Center for Global
        Safe Water, provided an overview of the increasing prevalence and
        public health risks of foodborne illnesses caused by a variety of
        bacteria, viruses and parasites, and water-related diseases associated
        with drinking water, water not intended for drinking, and recreational
     About the News Conference and Symposium
     The 12th Richard J. Duma/NFID Annual News Conference and Symposium on
 Infectious Diseases was supported, in part, by unrestricted educational
 grants to NFID from the Biotechnology Industry Organization,
 GlaxoSmithKline, sanofi pasteur, and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. This event is
 named for former NFID president and executive director Richard J. Duma, MD,
 PhD, currently director of infectious diseases at Halifax Medical Center in
 Daytona Beach, FL.
     About the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
     The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) is a non-profit,
 tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1973 and dedicated to
 educating the public and healthcare professionals about the causes,
 treatment and prevention of infectious diseases. For more information,
 please visit

SOURCE National Foundation for Infectious Diseases