Colorado

Aug 31, 2009 6:46 PM by Andy Koen

Bracing for a severe flu season

Civilian and military emergency managers met at Fort Carson Thursday to further develop plans in preparation of the upcoming flu season. The H1N1 "swine flu" hasn't gone away since it first arrived back in the spring and public health managers worry that having two active strains of the virus circulating at once could create problems.

"We could have a very severe flu season this year," said Col. Drew Kosmowski, public health emergency officer for the Mountain Post.

Kosmowski said the goal of the meetings was to lay out the necessary groundwork to handle large scale flu outbreaks, and to establish effective working relationships between military and civilian emergency agencies.

"I would like to see an even greater awareness and more collaborative planning and preparation for events that are starting to unfold," Kosmowski said.

El Paso County Public Health Director Kandi Buckland agreed that local governments and military instillations have "a shared responsibility to make sure that what happens on any one post, the health department is aware of it and what's happening in the community that the bases are aware of it as well."

Fort Carson is currently expanding its capacity at Evans Army Hospital in order to accommodate an increased number of flu patients this flu season. An old barracks building is being fitted to serve as a hospital annex to accept overflow from the emergency department.

Both Kosmowski and Buckland stressed the importance of getting seasonal flu vaccinations to reduce community risk. They also encouraged the public to take basic flu precautions like proper hand washing and using hand sanitizer to further reduce the spread of flu.

The public is also encouraged to check the county health department's website for the latest information on influence and H1N1 flu.

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