Recent Flu Outbreak (H1N1 Strain) 1.0
Thursday May 07, 2009 - No doubt, every person who works at Avita is aware of the recent outbreak of a newly identified strain of viral infection known as the Swine Flu. Dr. Jon Rubenow, Medical Director for Avita, would like to remind you of several things you already know that will help you during this time of incomplete knowledge of this virus.
We do know that the virus currently causing concern is treatable with readily available medications. It is serious, just as any flu can be, and each of us had experienced the flu.
Avita already has Policy and Procedure in place that addresses risks of this sort, most prominently in the Infection Control Procedure that includes the Infection Control Grid (available on Avita Public Folders). You are your own best defense against infection when you take precautions that are universally noted to reduce spread of infection between people - most importantly, wash your hands frequently (alcohol based hand gel is an excellent alternative). Please cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing and use tissues for this purpose whenever possible, disposing of the tissue after a single use.
Staff members are encouraged to use their Sick Leave and minimize contact with others if they have symptoms of the flu, regardless of the particular viral strain involved. Similarly, Avita Policy and Procedure dictates that consumers with symptoms of an infectious disease (including a fever, defined by temperature over 100 degrees by oral measurement) not participate in day programs while ill.
Additional precautions can be tailored to your work site. Those may include having tissues available in several sites where they are easy to access; ensuring trash cans have liners to make emptying easier to perform without unnecessary handling. Masks are not considered necessary at this time.
For those who don't want to read this entire memo, let me simplify:
Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer
Place adequate supplies of sanitizer within reach of everyone
Cover your sneeze or cough
Make tissues and trash cans easily available to everyone
Remember that the flu virus is serious, but it is treatable!
Caren Ayers, Health & Safety Officer for Avita and I are available for consultation and intend to keep you updated. Consumer care issues may arise and will likely require clinical input to determine the best course of action in each individual case. Caren and I, along with the Executive Team, are monitoring the situation and plan to remain in close contact with Directors and staff regarding any updates.
Thank you for staying focused on your task at hand - caring for consumers - while we all monitor the potential infection risk.
World Health Organization information H1N1 Flu
About the disease
1 May 2009
How do people become infected with influenza A(H1N1)?
Outbreaks in humans are now occurring from human-to-human transmission. When infected people cough or sneeze, infected droplets get on their hands, drop onto surfaces, or are dispersed into the air. Another person can breathe in contaminated air, or touch infected hands or surfaces, and be exposed. To prevent spread, people should cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing, and wash their hands regularly.
What are the signs and symptoms of infection?
Early signs of influenza A(H1N1) are flu-like, including fever, cough, headache, muscle and joint pain, sore throat and runny nose, and sometimes vomiting or diarrhea.
Why are we so worried about this pandemic possibility when thousands die every year from seasonal epidemics?
Seasonal epidemics occur every year and we are able to treat the virus with seasonal vaccines. A pandemic is a worldwide epidemic. It is a new virus and one to which the populations will have no immunity.
What can I do?
6 May 2009 (updating content posted 1 May 2009)
What can I do to protect myself from catching influenza A(H1N1)?
The main route of transmission of the new influenza A(H1N1) virus seems to be similar to seasonal influenza, via droplets that are expelled by speaking, sneezing or coughing. You can prevent getting infected by avoiding close contact with people who show influenza-like symptoms (trying to maintain a distance of about 1 meter if possible) and taking the following measures:
* avoid touching your mouth and nose;
* clean hands thoroughly with soap and water, or cleanse them with an alcohol-based hand rub on a regular basis (especially if touching the mouth and nose, or surfaces that are potentially contaminated);
* avoid close contact with people who might be ill;
* reduce the time spent in crowded settings if possible;
* improve airflow in your living space by opening windows;
* practice good health habits including adequate sleep, eating nutritious food, and keeping physically active.
What about using a mask? What does WHO recommend?
If you are not sick you do not have to wear a mask.
If you are caring for a sick person, you can wear a mask when you are in close contact with the ill person and dispose of it immediately after contact, and cleanse your hands thoroughly afterwards.
If you are sick and must travel or be around others, cover your mouth and nose.
Using a mask correctly in all situations is essential. Incorrect use actually increases the chance of spreading infection.
When and how to use a mask? Please visit the web site below.
How do I know if I have influenza A(H1N1)?
You will not be able to tell the difference between seasonal flu and influenza A(H1N1) without medical help. Typical symptoms to watch for are similar to seasonal viruses and include fever, cough, headache, body aches, sore throat and runny nose. Only your medical practitioner and local health authority can confirm a case of influenza A(H1N1).
What should I do if I think I have the illness?
If you feel unwell, have high fever, cough or sore throat:
* stay at home and keep away from work, school or crowds;
* rest and take plenty of fluids;
* cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing and, if using tissues, make sure you dispose of them carefully. Clean your hands immediately after with soap and water or cleanse them with an alcohol-based hand rub;
* if you do not have a tissue close by when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth as much as possible with the crook of your elbow;
* use a mask to help you contain the spread of droplets when you are around others, but be sure to do so correctly;
* inform family and friends about your illness and try to avoid contact with other people;
* If possible, contact a health professional before traveling to a health facility to discuss whether a medical examination is necessary.
What should I do if I need medical attention?
* If possible, contact your health care provider before traveling to a health facility, and report your symptoms. Explain why you think you have influenza A (H1N1) (e.g. if you have recently traveled to a country where there is an outbreak in people). Follow the advice given to you.
* If you cannot contact your health care provider before traveling to a health facility, tell a health care worker of your suspicion of infection immediately after arrival at the clinic or hospital.
* Cover your nose and mouth during travel.
Should I go to work if I have the flu but am feeling OK?
No. Whether you have influenza A(H1N1) or a seasonal influenza, you should stay home and away from work through the duration of your symptoms. This is a precaution that can protect your work colleagues and others.
Can I travel?
If you are feeling unwell or have symptoms of influenza, you should not travel. If you have any doubts about your health, you should check with your health care provider.
Source: World Health Organization, http://www.who.int/en/