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PANAMAX 2009 Tests Pandemic Outbreak in Exercise

http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=48357

PANAMA CITY, Panama (NNS) -- Representatives from 10 U.S. government agencies are holding a two-day table-top exercise in cooperation with the government of Panama to assist in responding to any future influenza pandemic Sept. 16.

The agency representatives are in Panama in conjunction with Fuerzas Aliadas PANAMAX 2009, a 12-day military security training exercise involving 20 countries.

The representatives discussed how the United States and the Panamanian government can manage an influenza outbreak by utilizing their agencies' assets to combat a pandemic.

"Our goal is to work as close as possible with the Panamanians in case there is a real threat, such as a pandemic influenza," said U.S. Navy Capt. Miguel A. Cubano, a medical doctor and command surgeon for the U.S. Southern Command. "We want to help them set up a plan so a pandemic outbreak does not have a great impact on their economy, stop people from going to work and school and stop the operations of the Panama Canal."

The agencies present included the Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Agency for International Development, Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy.

Since the severity of flu outbreaks is difficult to predict, the U.S. agencies are sharing tools and information to help Panama combat any level of influenza outbreak.

Influenza usually starts suddenly, with symptoms that include fever, headache, tiredness, coughing, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, diarrhea and vomiting. Many different illnesses, including the common cold, can have similar symptoms, so diagnosis and communication are key to anticipating an unusually severe flu outbreak.

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