Great Bend — A pandemic flu outbreak would kill an estimated 1,100 to 2,500 people in Kansas. Between 4,600 and 10,700 Kansans would be hospitalized. As many as 486,000 other Kansans would seek outpatient care.
Those are the estimates by Kansas health officials, based on national projections that a pandemic flu could attack 15 percent to 35 percent of the population. Concern is mounting that the avian flu could mutate into a version that spreads easily from person to person, starting a pandemic.
The federal government has allocated $3.8 billion for pandemic flu preparedness, with states receiving $100 million for their own planning. Kansas will receive $1.1 million of that, with about 80 percent going to local health departments, said state epidemiologist Gail Hansen.
With the nation now under a "pandemic alert period," Kansas health officials are reaching out to various sections of society.
On Tuesday, the first of a series of symposiums on pandemic flu preparedness planned for across the state occurred in Great Bend. The symposium focused on avian flu in domestic fowl and game birds, as well as surveillance in wild bird populations.
"The producer is always going to be the first line of defense," state veterinarian Paul Grosdidier said.
Kansas will begin a voluntary testing program for poultry later this year, targeting live bird markets, county fairs and producers of domestic poultry and waterfowl.
Other pandemic flu symposiums are scheduled for Tuesday in Topeka and May 22 in Salina.