Pandemic

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Influenza & H1N1 Activity in the US

flu_activity_in_us

Source:  CDC

Key Flu Indicators

November 6, 2009, 11:00 AM

Each week CDC analyzes information about influenza disease activity in the United States and publishes findings of key flu indicators in a report called FluView.* During the week of October 25-31, 2009, a review of the key indictors found that influenza activity remained high in the United States. Below is a summary of the most recent key indicators:

  • Visits to doctors for influenza-like illness (ILI) nationally decreased very slightly this week over last week after four consecutive weeks of sharp increases. While ILI declined slightly, visits to doctors for influenza-like illness remain at much higher levels than what is expected for this time of the year and parts of the country continue to see sharp increases in activity. It’s possible that nationwide ILI could rise again. ILI continues to be higher than what is seen during the peak of most regular flu seasons.
  • Total influenza hospitalization rates for laboratory-confirmed flu are climbing and are higher than expected for this time of year. Hospitalization rates continue to be highest is younger populations with the highest hospitalization rate reported in children 0-4 years old.
  • The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) based on the 122 Cities Report continues to increase and has been higher for five week now than what is expected at this time of year. In addition, 18 flu-related pediatric deaths were reported this week; 15 of these deaths were confirmed 2009 H1N1, and three were influenza A viruses, but were not subtyped. Since April 2009, CDC has received reports of 129 laboratory-confirmed pediatric 2009 H1N1 deaths and another 15 pediatric deaths that were laboratory confirmed as influenza, but where the flu virus subtype was not determined.
  • Forty-eight states are reporting widespread influenza activity at this time; a decline of one state over last week. They are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. This many reports of widespread activity at this time of year are unprecedented during seasonal flu.
  • Almost all of the influenza viruses identified so far continue to be 2009 H1N1 influenza A viruses. These viruses remain similar to the virus chosen for the 2009 H1N1 vaccine, and remain susceptible to the antiviral drugs oseltamivir and zanamivir with rare exception

*All data are preliminary and may change as more reports are received.

Industrial Hygienists to Get Involved in the Event of a Pandemic

pandemic-guideline-cover:Layout 1.qxdThe American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) published guidelines on their website pertaining to industrial hygiene in the event of a pandemic. These recommendations can be used in conjunction with their 2006 Publication, The Role of the Industrial Hygienist in a Pandemic.

Workplace Access and Security

* Restrict and monitor workplace access.
* Establish criteria for refusal of access to unfit workers and criteria for return-to-work.
* Implement telework capabilities where feasible.
* Develop infrastructure to manage meetings by conference call or videoconferencing—when meetings are necessary, keep a separation of at least 6 feet from colleagues and ensure there is adequate ventilation.
* Reduce or eliminate noncritical social interactions.
* Encourage job rotation or staggered shifts to reduce workplace capacity as well as worker exposure risks related to traveling on public transit during peak times.
* Segregate/isolate critical work clusters.
* Reduce or eliminate work in low-ventilated areas.
* Minimize the use of shared facilities for eating and smoking by staggering meals and breaks or designating multiple sites.
* Reduce or eliminate work travel to high-risk regions and encourage workers who are traveling to stay away in the event of a local outbreak.
* Initiate a snow day practice or “reverse quarantine” for nonessential workers.

Labor Relations

* Identify critical production needs and reduce nonessential production.
* Compile priority requirements for key workers with respect to personal protective equipment and training.
* Engage management and workers/union parties in discussions on safe work practices, grievance procedures, and contingencies available for work force, supply chain and production.
* Maintain effective communications between all workplace parties.
* Address dispute resolution regarding health and safety/safe work issues.
* Identify and mitigate unique exposure risks posed by multiple jobs and shifts by part-time or occasional workers.

Communications

* Establish call-in hotline.
* Create up-to-the-minute web splash page.
* Launch dedicated “grapevine.”

Germ Control

* Develop a sick leave policy that does not penalize sick employees and encourages them to stay home—recognize that employees with ill family members may need to stay home to care for them.
* Provide resources and a work environment that promotes personal hygiene—provide tissues, no-touch trash cans, hand soap, hand sanitizer, disinfectants, and disposable towels (for employees to clean their work surfaces).
* Encourage employees to wash hands frequently and avoid touching nose, mouth, and eyes—germs can live for two hours or more on surfaces.
* Encourage employees to cover their coughs and sneezes.
* Provide employees with up-to-date education and training on flu risk factors, protective behaviors, and instruction on proper behaviors (proper cough etiquette and care of personal protective equipment).
* Keep work surfaces, telephones, computer equipment and other frequently touched surfaces and office equipment clean.
* Discourage employees from using phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment that are not their own.
* Promote healthy lifestyles that include plenty of sleep, physical activity, good nutrition, stress management, drinking plenty of fluids, and smoking cessation.
* Cover mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough either with a tissue or upper sleeves then clean your hands.
* Clean hands often, and when possible, wash with soap and warm water, rub vigorously together and scrub all surfaces for 15 to 20 seconds.
* When soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers, rubbing hands until dry.

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