State Officials Preparing for Pandemic Flu Outbreak

Should North Carolina be hit with a pandemic flu outbreak, state health officials want to be ready.

According to the state Department of Health and Human Services, the Pandemic CIPHER 2006 exercise begins this week which will consist of computer messages tracking a flu outbreak elsewhere in the world. Then the major portion of the drill will be conducted Wednesday and Thursday, May 24-25.

According to State Health Director Dr. Leah Devlin, these vital training exercises are being conducted to test the state's preparations for a potential pandemic flu outbreak and to identify gaps in training, preparation and procedures. The goal of the exercise will be to overwhelm the state's health system.

The N.C. Division of Public Health is partnering with the N.C. Division of Emergency Management to conduct the exercise. The State Emergency Operation Center and the Public Health Command Center, both in Raleigh, will be activated as part of the exercise. Field activities will take place in the counties of Guilford, Henderson, Lenoir, Pasquotank, Surry and Union.