Extension has role in influenza education/prevention

May 01, 2009

University Park, Pa. — With public concern over the outbreak of H1N1 type A influenza (swine flu) growing, Penn State Extension is working with numerous Pennsylvania agricultural and public-health organizations to educate citizens on the virus, its origins, how it is spread and its human- and animal-health impacts.

Penn State Extension has compiled information on H1N1 influenza from a variety of sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pennsylvania and U.S. departments of Health, Pennsylvania and U.S. departments of Agriculture, the Extension Disaster Education Network and the National Pork Board. To access the information, go to the College of Agricultural Sciences' home page on the Web, http://agsci.psu.edu, and click on the "H1N1 Flu Virus (swine flu)" link on the right. The site will be updated continuously as new information becomes available.

"As always, Penn State Extension is providing reliable, useful information to Pennsylvania citizens concerning current issues and agricultural science," said David Filson, state program leader for emergency readiness and rural health and safety. "Specialists at Penn State and from around the nation have written science-based information concerning the H1N1 influenza outbreak, and we have compiled information from a variety of expert and dependable sources about the disease."

Penn State Extension has a strong record of responding to crises. For instance, when the plum pox virus was found for the first time in North America in an Adams County peach orchard in 1999, extension collaborated with state and federal agencies to nip the outbreak in the bud before it decimated Pennsylvania's stone fruit industry.

When outbreaks of foot and mouth disease and bovine spongiform encephalopathy — or "mad cow disease" — devastated livestock industries in Great Britain and Western Europe nearly a decade ago, Penn State Extension responded with educational programs to help producers keep these diseases out of the United States and educate consumers, travelers and others.

When Pennsylvanians were coping with a multi-year drought during the 1990s and early 2000s, extension provided information and expertise that helped minimize the effects on farm businesses, families and communities.

"The cooperative extension system has a tradition of providing accurate information to the public and responding to emergencies and natural disasters, such as storms, floods and disease outbreaks affecting crops, animals and people," said Filson. "In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, extension focused on homeland security issues.

"Penn State Extension is uniquely positioned to respond to emergencies," Filson added. "We have a network of educators around the state, with an office in every county and partnerships with local and state agencies. We also have a communications system -- including a statewide computer network -- that gives us the capacity to send and receive information very quickly."

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated May 06, 2010