Influenza continues to be an important public health problem in the Americas. Further evidence for adequate policy and decision-making is necessary especially in countries of Central America and the Dominican Republic. The present project builds-on existing influenza preparedness collaborations between the Gorgas Memorial Institute (GMI) in Panama and international organizations, such as the CDC-Central America and Panama Office, PAHO, COMISCA, and local and international academic institutions. In addition, often at-risk populations tend to be neglected within the system and adequate vaccination campaigns are not implemented to reach these highly vulnerable groups. The GMI will conduct specific research and information gathering activities among at- risk populations, including: children <5 years, elderly/adult >50 years, and pregnant women. The areas of focus include disease incidence, efficacy of antiviral treatment, document antibiotic use, diagnosis, influenza vaccine effectiveness, and financial burden of disease. Further, an analysis to determine human-animal interphase through characterization of the prevalence of influenza virus in domestic birds and porcine populations in rural areas will be attained. Regional knowledge sharing for future research will be attained through the development of an electronic database. All findings will be disseminated through Regional meetings, publications, and participation at international conferences.
The present project is relevant to public health because it provides the research and training capacity in influenza and other respiratory disease to develop adequate policies for prevention, detection and disease management, and vaccine campaigns for at-risk populations. In addition, the project will provide an understanding of animal transmission of influenza, and future public health interventions will result from these findings. The project is applicable to public health endeavors in Central American, the Dominican Republic, and Latino populations living elsewhere. !