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University of Iowa News Release

April 4, 2006

Avian Flu Topic Of April 18 Program In Clinton

The spread of avian influenza shows no sign of slowing as country after country confirms H5N1 infection in birds. Although human infection is still relatively rare, the threat of an influenza pandemic remains a top issue among health officials.

To help explain how this disease impacts the United States and Iowa, the University of Iowa College of Public Health and UI Alumni Association are co-sponsoring an educational program for the general public titled, "Bird Flu and Human Health: Why the Concern?" Additional program sponsors include Clinton Community College and Mercy Medical Center.

The free program will be held Tuesday, April 18, in the Clinton Community College auditorium, located at 1000 Lincoln Blvd. in Clinton. A reception and registration will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by the 6 p.m. program. Continuing education credit is available for selected health professions.

The program will feature Tara Smith, Ph.D., deputy director of the UI Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases and UI assistant professor of epidemiology. Smith will review the nature of influenza infections, describe the recent avian influenza outbreaks, discuss the concerns of public health officials and detail what the United States is doing to protect its citizens from large influenza epidemics.

"Scientists are closely monitoring the virus for mutations that would enable it to spread easily from human to human," Smith said. "States are also developing response plans. The only way to protect against a pandemic is before it happens."

Individuals interested in attending the program are asked to register in advance by calling 563-441-4100 or toll free 888-336-3907 by April 18 (refer to class No. 12787).

The statewide UI College of Public Health Educational Outreach Series is funded, in part, by a grant from Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa. More information about the educational outreach programs and continuing education credit can be found at www.public-health.uiowa.edu/outreach/eops/

STORY SOURCE: The University of Iowa College of Public Health, Office of Communications, 4257 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242.

CONTACTS: Media: Debra Venzke, 319-335-9647, debra-venzke@uiowa.edu; Program: Diana Baculis, 319-384-5485, diana-baculis@uiowa.edu