Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swine Flu update

Sharon Hvam sent me this and it is all common sense. No need to panic but we can all take a bit more care.

The Pandemic flu planning group has been meeting frequently since Sunday to evaluate the information known about the cases of Swine flu (H1N1) in the U.S. and throughout the world and is in contact with the Department of Health. There are 50 cases confirmed in the U.S. at this time, with one person hospitalized and most cases very mild. No cases have been identified in SD, Minnesota, Iowa or Nebraska.

On Monday afternoon, April 27, the World Health Organization changed the Pandemic alert level from 3 to 4 (out of a possible 6) indicating that human-to-human spread has resulted in sustained "community level outbreaks. Level 4 indicates that the likelihood of a pandemic has increased but not that it is inevitable. The WHO levels guide the levels of emergency response throughout the U.S. and at Sanford. You may remain up to date with recommendations from CDC and WHO by accessing this web site:

Consider this as the start of another influenza season with newly heightened awareness for cases of influenza.

Travel precautions: At this time CDC recommends that U.S. travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Mexico.

Vaccination: There is no swine flu vaccine available at this time. It is not yet clear that the 2008-2009 seasonal influenza vaccine will protect against this H1N1 strain of influenza. Therefore hand hygiene, cough hygiene and compliance with contact/droplet precautions are essential prevention strategies.

Personal Preparations: Now is the time to begin thinking about how you will meet the needs of family and the needs of work should cases of the H1N1 flu occur nearby which could involve implementing additional measures to prevent spread.

Precautions when caring for patients suspected/known to have influenza A:

* Private room with standard, contact and droplet isolation to enter the room including gown, mask, and gloves.
* Frequent hand hygiene with either soap and water or waterless hand sanitizers – instruct visitors and patients
* Cough etiquette using tissue or sleeves to cough into, discard tissues, follow with hand hygiene – instruct visitors and patients
* Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth - that is how the virus can spread to you

Symptoms: Any of these can occur - Fever of 100ยบ F or more, headache/body aches, fatigue/malaise, cough, stuffy nose, sore throat, GI symptoms of nausea/vomiting/diarrhea, shortness of breath and altered mentation.

Transmission: Transmission is by droplet or contact with a coughing or sneezing person.

Incubation period: 1-4 days from exposure

Infectious period: From one day prior to the onset of symptoms until 7 days following onset.

Treatment: Those who are ill can be treated with anti-viral medications. Treatment guidelines have been distributed to physicians and mid-level practitioners and will be updated as needed.

Preventing Illness: If you get sick stay home from work, school and avoid contact with others.

This is a situation that can change in a moment. You will be updated as the information changes.

Sent on behalf of the Pandemic Planning Team

Sharon Rockman RN BA CIC

Sanford Health Infection Preventionist and Coordinator

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