The federal government wants Missouri to have a summit meeting to get ready for a bird flu epidemic. The state health department is not sure it needs that meeting. The Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D. C. thinks all 50 states need to have a statewide planning session to look at what do do when the avian flu hits. But the Missouri Department of Health has been working on this issue for a long time. Spokesman Nanci Gonder says the department already has been working with other state agencies, schools, businesses and hospitals about dealing with a pandemic. Gonder says Missouri has been working on a plan for the last year. She says the department will consider whether it needs to call a summit or whether the state is far enough ahead of the curve that it doesn’t need one. Gonder says the state’s Homeland Security Advisory Council recently established a subcommittee on pandemic influenza, a move that brings the resources of Homeland Security into the discussion. The only question the State Health Department has is who else needs to be drawn into the planning. Gonder says state and local public health agencies as well as groups that would would feel the biggest impacts of a pandemic already have been part of the discussion.
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