Health Officials Gathered in Dale County for a Bird Flu Conference

Health officials from several agencies gathered in Dale County Monday for a bird flu conference.

One of the most alarming facts they talked about was the potential for tens of thousands of deaths when the deadly disease hits Alabama.

It’s the first event of it is kind to be held in the state, a county-wide conference on planning and preparation for a bird flu pandemic.

Officials called the conference, "prepare, not panic" but finding out how little preparation has been done, is alarming.

"If a pandemic influenza comes to humans in Alabama, then it will certainly have a wide-spread impact on health and the economy" said Dr. Charles Woernle, Alabama Department of Public Health.

Although humans can contract bird flu from birds, it's not much of a concern yet because the avian flu is still a germ that does not spread from human-to-human.

However officials are bracing for the point when it does change into a human germ.

Dale County Emergency Director Ray Phillips said "We are preparing by telling people to stock up on food and water. And be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 3 days because that's how long it's going to take for us to get to you, basically."

The federal, state and local governments are working together on a plan to effectively handle such an outbreak.

There is still no vaccine and at this point, resources are limited.

The bird flu is being spread around the world, primarily by migratory birds.

The federal government is saying that if the virus changes into a human germ, more than 200,000 people in the U.S could die from it.