From the Office of State Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 19, 2006
CONTACT: Melissa del Bosque (512) 463-0120, cell 947-4046

Senators Hinojosa, Zaffirini and Lucio to Host Pandemic Flu Meeting for Local Elected Officials

AUSTIN -- Three South Texas Senators will host a pandemic flu preparedness meeting Tuesday in Falfurrias to assist county and city officials in creating local response plans.

Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen; Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo; and Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, have invited elected city and county officials to be updated on avian pandemic influenza by several state and federal agencies including the Texas Animal Health Commission and the Texas National Guard.

"If pandemic flu ever comes to Texas, it will be up to our cities and counties to respond on the local level," Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa said. "This is why it is critical that we begin planning now. This meeting is an important step in educating our leaders in how to create an effective response plan."

Senator Judith Zaffirini said that South Texas needs to be especially vigilant because of its location on a major migratory flyway.

"The South Texas region, an area comprising more than 3 million residents, creates a funneled convergence zone for the Central and Mississippi Valley migratory bird flyways," Senator Zaffirini said. "Since South Texas is a hot-zone of migratory activity, the region must be monitored carefully. Investigating how this disease could be spread and reducing the risks of regional infection are essential elements for pandemic preparedness."

Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. said meetings like the one taking place Tuesday are vital to increasing lines of communication and planning among communities and state and federal agencies.

"Senators Hinojosa, Zaffirini and I recognize that in the event of a massive pandemic, local coordination would be vital for the health and security of our communities across South Texas. An outbreak of avian flu amongst the human population would pose a serious health and safety risk to our area. In order to minimize the potential dangers, it is critical that we pool our resources and work as a team," said Senator Lucio.

The pandemic flu preparedness meeting will be held Tuesday, June 20th, from 9:30 a.m. to Noon at the Border Patrol Headquarters in Falfurrias, Brooks County. For more information on this meeting contact, Melissa del Bosque in Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa's office at (512) 947-4046.

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