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County Hosts Pandemic Flu Response Exercise

By Tiffany Matthews

Buffalo, NY – Erie County's Emergency Services Training and Operations Center in Cheektowaga was the scene Tuesday of a full-scale pandemic flu response exercise.

Participants from dozens of agencies across New York simulated their response to a flu pandemic spreading throughout the region. County Health Commissioner Dr. Anthony Billittier says a pandemic outbreak poses a number of challenges.

"With a pandemic or other communicable disease outbreak, the disaster goes on and on. One patient gives it to two others. So, the disaster actually keeps going on," Billittier said. "The other challenge we have in an infectious disease outbreak is that you can't see the disaster. With a fire, flood or snowstorm, you can see what you're dealing with. You can't see viruses."

The scenario in Tuesday's drill was the return of a local man from Las Vegas where he had come down with the flu. It quickly spread from there.

County Executive Joel Giambra said Tuesday's training is vital to public safety.