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University of Iowa News Release


Release: Oct. 11, 2007

'Flu Fundamentals' teleconference kicks off in October

The University Hygienic Laboratory (UHL) is expanding its annual influenza surveillance-training program from one to three classes to update and prepare school, laboratory and health care staff members who will be collecting data that tracks the incidence of influenza.

"Flu Fundamentals" is a free, one-hour teleconference series. The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and UHL are partnering to deliver this program to as many as 125 locations across the state. Topics explored for health care providers and school staff members include past influenza activity, pandemic and avian influenza, and the role of the Hygienic Laboratory.

The session designed for laboratory staff and public health workers also addresses UHL's testing algorithm, result interpretation, Web data and other topics of interest to clinicians.

"Influenza-related illnesses cause many deaths each year in the United States," said Mike Pentella, Ph.D., associate director of infectious diseases. "It is important to track the incidence of influenza and to encourage people to protect themselves by having an influenza shot or FluMist."

Meghan Harris, an IDPH epidemiologist, will present "Flu Fundamentals" along with UHL's Lucy DesJardin, Ph.D., program manager of molecular diagnostics; Erin Graf, Association of Public Health Laboratories/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fellow; Sandy Jirsa, supervisor of virology; and Pentella.

The series will be held on the following dates:

--Tuesday, Oct. 23: "Flu Fundamentals for Health Care Providers: Focus on Iowa Surveillance."
--Tuesday, Oct. 30: "Flu Fundamentals for Schools: Focus on Prevention and Intervention."
--Tuesday, Nov. 6: "Flu Fundamentals for Laboratories: Focus on Diagnosis and Testing."

Registration information is available at the UHL Web site at

The mission of the Iowa Department of Public Health is to promote and protect the health of Iowans. To learn more about what IDPH does, visit

The University Hygienic Laboratory is the state of Iowa's environmental and public health laboratory, with facilities located on the University of Iowa's Oakdale Campus in Iowa City and at the Iowa Lab Facilities in Ankeny, a Des Moines suburb. Among its many services, the laboratory functions as a consultative and analytical support facility for state agencies, health professionals, and citizens. UHL is part of the UI and performs analyses on samples from virtually all matrices, including human clinical specimens, air, drinking water, wastewater, soil, sediment, industrial effluents, oil and fish. Additional information about UHL, its programs and services is available online at

STORY SOURCE:  University Hygienic Laboratory, 102 Oakdale Campus, H101 OH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-5002

MEDIA CONTACT: Pat Blake, 319-335-4177,