U prof to join global pandemics council

The director of the University of MinnesotaâÄôs Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy is moving up in the world. Michael Osterholm , the centerâÄôs director, has been appointed to a new global council on pandemic outbreaks. He was appointed to the council by the World Economic Forum , a worldwide nonprofit organization that focuses on improving the state of the world. It has councils for issues in health, poverty and technology . Osterholm said the council hopes to create a plan to be prepared for the next global pandemic. A pandemic today is more than just people getting sick, he said, because of how quickly products and people travel across the globe. âÄúOne of the issues we have to understand is an influenza pandemic today overlaid on top of the global economy has tremendous implications,âÄù he said. Laurel OâÄôNeil, OsterholmâÄôs assistant, said he works hard and is devoted to his line of work. âÄúItâÄôs hard to keep up with him because heâÄôs busy 24/7,âÄù she said. She said Osterholm flew in from the United Arab Emirates late Monday and had a full slate of work on Tuesday. âÄúHe probably hasnâÄôt slept in three days, which is pretty typical,âÄù she said. Aggie Leitheiser, director of emergency preparedness at the Minnesota Department of Health , said she has worked with Osterholm before. Leitheiser said in the case of a pandemic outbreak in Minnesota, they would be prepared, but things like pandemics tend not to work according to plan. âÄúWeâÄôre continually working on that,âÄù she said. âÄúBut we have more to do.âÄù The federal government warns people about the dangers of an influenza pandemic , such as the avian flu. Although there have been no cases reported in the United States, there have been human cases reported across the world . âÄúIf in fact the next pandemic does anything to interrupt trade and travel, then weâÄôre not talking about people just getting sick and dying from influenza,âÄù Osterholm said. âÄúWeâÄôre also talking about a major interruption of a lot of other important aspects of our life.âÄù There have been past pandemic outbreaks that have affected the world. In 2003, there was an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the SARS outbreak infected more than 8,000 people worldwide and killed 774. Osterholm said outbreaks like this could happen at any time. âÄúItâÄôs not a matter of if, itâÄôs a matter of when,âÄù he said.