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Avian influenza and upcoming flu season focus of November 30 Valley's View

November 25, 2005

NR05192

The University of Maine at Fort Kent and Northern Maine Medical Center jointly produced television program "The Valley's View" will feature a discussion on the avian influenza (bird flu) when it airs on WAGM-TV this Wednesday, November 30 at 7:30 p.m.

The production, taped on-location in the new addition to Forest Hill Manor overlooking the St. John River, will include a conversation about the possibility of a major worldwide outbreak or pandemic that some health officials are warning may result from the avian flu.

The so-called bird flu has infected fowl in Asia and Europe, and has occasionally infected and killed people. The strain has been limited in person-to-person spread, however, medical officials are warning that it could mutate to more easily infect and spread among people.

Joining program host Jason Parent, UMFK director of university relations and alumni affairs in the first segment will be Dr. Rodney Lahren, MD, a general surgeon at Northern Maine Medical Center.

Lahren will explain to viewers what the avian influenza virus is and how it differs from human flu viruses. He will also speak about the possibility for a pandemic and what one could expect if a pandemic were to occur.

"Dr. Lahren is a familiar face to our Valley's View audience," said Parent. "We are particularly pleased to welcome him on our program to discuss this emerging issue in health care that could have a profound impact on the people in our region and around the world."

Lahren's return to the Valley's View will be followed in the second segment with an interview featuring Albertine Soucy, RN, NMMC's new infection control nurse.

Soucy will talk about some of the precautions taken and preparations made on the federal, state and local level to combat the avian flu if a pandemic would occur.

In Maine, the director of the state bureau of health has advised residents to prepare emergency kits with at least three to five days worth of food, hydration fluids, fever-reducing medicines and other essentials in the event a pandemic occurs and people are asked to stay home without leaving for a period of time.

In the final segment of the program, Parent, joined by guest George Carter, clinical pharmacist at NMMC, will discuss the difference between the avian flu and the expected influenza season that has just begun.

Carter will also address what is expected in terms of the severity of this year's flu season and what the situation is concerning the flu vaccine.

"The Valley's View" is a monthly program which takes an in-depth look at contemporary issues using local experts as guests to address the selected topics.

The program will continue to feature two regular segments, the "College Question," which looks at new and exciting developments on the UMFK campus, and "Your Healthcare Connection", which explores concerns in healthcare, using professionals from NMMC.

The health feature will be produced and taped at NMMC, using hospital personnel. CarolAnne Dube, public relations director for the hospital will host the segment.

The "College Question" will be hosted by Kate Fecinta, UMFK's new student success coordinator.

The show will air directly following the popular syndicated game show "Wheel of Fortune".