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

WASHINGTON, July 11, 2007 /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  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

CONTACT: Sharon Cooper-Kerr of National Foundation for InfectiousDiseases, +1-301-656-0003 x14

Web site:

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Posted: July 2007