It might be a highly contagious virus, a virulent flu or a drug-resistant superbug.
But medical experts say a pandemic disease is sure to strike Greenville one day.
So local health officials are conducting a drill this week so that when it happens, the medical community won’t be caught off guard. And this time, second-year medical students at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine-Greenville will be involved.
“There are a host of deadly viruses that could potentially threaten the world’s population and they could start anywhere in the world — or here in Greenville,” said Dr. Bill Kelly, medical director for infectious diseases at Greenville Health System and a member of the medical school faculty.
The drill, which officials say may be the most comprehensive pandemic exercise at a U.S. medical school, runs from Aug. 5-8 at Greenville Memorial’s Health Sciences Education Building. It’s part of a pathology course on viral infectious disease and will include faculty and staff from Greenville Health System, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, the Red Cross and other groups.
“There is no way to determine if a variant strain of influenza or another disease altogether will cause the next pandemic,” Kelly said. “So introducing medical students to the complexities of pandemic response is critical.”
In the exercise, groups of six to eight will tackle issues such as a lack of resources at a time when they are desperately needed, said Dr. Thomas B. Pace, an orthopedic surgeon at GHS and clinical faculty member at the medical school.