UNH Experts Bring Insight to H1N1 (Swine Flu) Outbreak
Media Contact:  Beth Potier
UNH Media Relations
April 30, 2009

DURHAM, N.H. - University of New Hampshire faculty members with expertise in disease transmission and public health are available to comment on the H1N1 virus, or swine flu.

Richard French, D.V.M., director of the N.H. Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory: 603-862-2726, richard.french@unh.edu
French is director of the New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory located at the University of New Hampshire, where he is also a clinical professor. A veterinary pathologist, he is an expert on zoonotic diseases, diseases that can be transmitted from other animals to humans, particularly those with public health significance like H1N1 and avian flu. The N.H. Veterinary Diagnostic Lab is part of a national network testing for avian flu, and French is a member of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Animal Health Emergency Response Corp.

"Because the virus is readily transmissible between humans, you have a potential for a world pandemic, which accounts for the designation of the virus as a Phase 5 alert status by the World Health Organization. Even if the case fatality rate is lower than avian flu, worldwide it could be profound," says French. He also notes that the disease has not been found in swine and no cases have been linked to swine, making "swine flu" a misnomer.

Marc Hiller, associate professor of health management and policy: 603-862-3411, marc.hiller@unh.edu
Hiller's expertise is in ethical issues in health care and public health such as preserving individual rights to the point at which individual behavior places the health of the public at risk.

"Issues of social distancing, basic principles such as frequent hand washing and use of disposable tissues, development of a new H1N1 vaccine, scientifically-based public health strategies and efforts are all important but must not come at the cost of precipitating unjustified fear or mandatory restriction of individual rights," says Hiller. "Prudent public health leadership from Centers for Disease Control and state public health experts with an understanding of social justice without over-reaction is important."

Hiller adds that the outbreak provides more evidence of the need and importance of assuring adequate support to the nation's public health infrastructure that often suffers in the absence of public health crises. 

For more information, FAQ's, and the latest UNH H1N1 updates, please visit: http://www.unh.edu/emergency/

The University of New Hampshire, founded in 1866, is a world-class public research university with the feel of a New England liberal arts college. A land, sea and space-grant university, UNH is the state's flagship public institution, enrolling 11,800 undergraduate and 2,400 graduate students.



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