South Dakota submits smallpox plan to CDC

South Dakota submits smallpox plan to CDC South Dakota has submitted a smallpox response plan to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). All states were required to submit plans as part of a national effort to prepare the nation for the possibility of terrorist activities.

"The purpose of the plan is to strengthen our ability to effectively manage a smallpox emergency, if one were to occur," said Secretary of Health Doneen Hollings-worth. "It makes good sense to prepare for that possibility, but it's important to remember that there has been no change in the nation's alert level."

Hollingsworth said the smallpox plan is one more step in the homeland security efforts initiated by Gov. Janklow last fall in response to Sept. 11 and the subsequent anthrax deaths. Previous efforts have included updating state laws to allow rapid response to bioterrorism threats, providing specialized training for health providers, expanding disease surveillance, and creating a mobile laboratory to bring testing capacity anywhere in the state. Also underway is the development of an electronic communications network linking the state health department with hospitals, clinics, labs, and emergency medical services.

As another step in that preparedness process, South Dakota's smallpox plan details how vaccination would be delivered if a case of smallpox were to occur. It covers such logistics as identifying vaccination sites, distributing vaccine, staffing and training, monitoring for adverse events, etc. The department is also developing a separate plan, which spells out a vaccination effort that could be conducted as a preventive measure prior to a confirmed case.

"In order to assure that South Dakota is prepared for the possibility of smallpox, we need to get response teams in place and vaccinated ahead of time so they could be ready to investigate and treat initial cases and to vaccinate their contacts," Hollingsworth said.

These response teams would include the public health workers responsible for investigations and outbreak control of initial cases and also key healthcare workers who would treat and manage those initial cases. Hollingsworth stressed that any vaccination effort would be voluntary.

"We also need to emphasize that no vaccination will take place unless the president gives that directive to the CDC. CDC's final recommendations to the states would follow any presidential directive but would likely include two or three stages," Hollingsworth said. "The first stage would be to vaccinate response team members. The second stage vaccinated would be those at greater risk for exposure than the general public, basically all health care providers and first responders not vaccinated in the first stage. The final stage could include offering the vaccine to the general population."

Hollingsworth said pre-event vaccination would begin within 30 days of a presidential directive.

Additional information about smallpox and vaccination can be found on the department's Web site at www.state.sd.us/doh/ smallpox/ and on the CDC Web site at www.cdc.gov/smallpox.

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