Most state health officials are planning for when-not-if a swine flu outbreak occurs.

As the federal government develops a national strategy to address the H1N1 virus for the fall and winter flu seasons, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), Washington, has developed a comprehensive Web page with resources for states. Since states are first responders to public health emergencies, state legislators and legislative staff now have a wealth of valuable information in one location.

William T. Pound, executive director of NCSL said in a statement released by the organization that "These online resources will help state legislators and legislative staff stay abreast of the federal and state responses to this public health alert," adding that "because there are many unknowns, scientists are working diligently to understand this emerging virus and its potential effect on the public’s health. As more detailed information becomes available, NCSL will provide relevant updates."

Based on the latest report from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, between 30% and 50% of the US population could contract the H1N1 this fall and winter with more than half needing medical attention.

State officials now have one place to find information and analysis from the White House, the Centers on Disease Control and Prevention, and the Department of Health and Human Services regarding the incidence of H1N1 around the nation. NCSL staff are in contact with officials at the CDC and HHS to receive regular updates on the spread and evolution of the flu strain.

Additionally, the Web site lists state actions and emergency preparedness plans already in place to respond to a widespread outbreak. Topics found on the Web page include:

What is H1N1 (Swine) Influenza?
Variant H1N1 Strains
H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu): State Health Department Web sites
Vaccine Development and Distribution
Resources for States

NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths, and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system, the organization says.

[Source: NCSL]