Saturday, April 15, more than 200 people gathered at the Davis Senior Center to learn more about avian influenza and the impacts that the high pathogenicity strain H5N1 from Asia might have on the region’s wild and domestic birds. Speakers also addressed concerns about the possible toll on humans, both in terms of economic losses and the food supply to the possibility of a human pandemic if the bird flu mutates into a strain of the virus that could pass from human to human. The symposium was hosted by the Yolo Chapter of the Audubon Society.
The audience included hunters, birders, public health officers, students, veterinarians, nurses and others.
Virginia Hinshaw, a virologist who specialized in influenza before taking her post as provost at UC Davis, gave the keynote presentation, an introduction to the virus and how it works.
A panel on wild and domestic birds featured John Takekawa (USGS), Walter Boyce (UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and Wildlife Health Center), Carol Cardona (UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Veterinary Medicine Extension Poultry Specialist), and John McLandress (California Waterfowl Association). Each panelist explored the different levels of risk associated with human interactions with birds, and with birds’ interactions with each other and other animals.
The afternoon session focused on state and county efforts to cope with a possible human epidemic, or pandemic. Diane Colborn of Assemblywoman Lois Wolk’s office discussed measures being addressed at the legislative level. Christian Sandrock, MD, (UC Davis Medical Center) spoke about normal influenza years and how an influenza pandemic would differ in both physiological effects on patients and in terms of institutional response. Bette Hinton, Yolo County Public Health Officer, outlined current county preparedness plans. She urged all residents to plan for at least two weeks of being at home during the illness or while caring for others. Regina Phelps focused on emergency planning in the private sector and reviewed how the U.S. and world economies might be disrupted by a pandemic.
More about avian influenza from UC Davis News Service