DoDEA OSS: Avian Flu Update: Recommendations
- Americans traveling or living overseas in affected areas should check for current information routinely on CDC' s avian influenza and Travelers Health websites. Information also is available on the WHO website.
- Travelers should avoid all contact with poultry (e.g., chickens, ducks, geese, pigeons, turkeys, and quail) or any wild birds, and avoid settings where H5N1-infected poultry may be present, such as commercial or backyard poultry farms and live poultry markets. Do not eat uncooked or undercooked poultry or poultry products, including dishes made with uncooked poultry blood.
- As with other infectious illnesses, one of the most important preventive practices is careful and frequent hand washing. Clean hands often, using either soap and water (or waterless, alcohol-based hand gels when soap is not available and hands are not visibly soiled) to remove potentially infectious materials from your skin and help prevent disease transmission.
- CDC does not recommend the routine use of masks or other personal protective equipment while in public areas.
- If one believes he/she might have been exposed to avian influenza, take the following precautions:
- Monitor health for 10 days.
- If one becomes ill with fever and develop a cough, sore throat, or difficulty breathing or if you develop any illness with fever during this 10-day period, consult a health-care provider. Before visiting a health-care setting, tell the provider the following: 1) symptoms, 2) where traveled, and 3) any direct poultry contact with poultry. The US Military clinics, U.S. embassy or consulate also can provide names and addresses of local physicians.
- Do not travel while ill, unless seeking medical care. Limiting contact with others as much as possible can help prevent the spread of an infectious illness.
The U.S. Department of Health And Human Services recently issued the HHS Pandemic Influenza Plan. This document serves as a blueprint for all HHS pandemic influenza preparedness and response planning. Part 1, the Strategic Plan, describes a coordinated public health and medical care strategy to prepare for, and begin responding to, an influenza pandemic. Part 2, Public Health Guidance for State and Local Partners provides guidance on specific aspects of pandemic influenza planning and response for the development of state and local preparedness plans.
An Exec Summary is attached and can be found at:
Some considerations in the report that may affect public schools are:
- Closure of office buildings, stores, schools, and public transportation systems may be feasible community containment measures during a pandemic.
- Although data are limited, school closures may be effective in decreasing spread of influenza and reducing the overall magnitude of disease in a community. In addition, the risk of infection and illness among children is likely to be decreased, which would be particularly important if the pandemic strain causes significant morbidity and mortality among children.
- Children are known to be efficient transmitters of seasonal influenza and other respiratory illnesses. Anecdotal reports suggest that community influenza outbreaks may be limited by closing schools. Results of mathematical modeling also suggest a reduction of overall disease, especially when schools are closed early in the outbreak.
- During a Pandemic Period, parents should be encouraged to consider child care arrangements that do not result in large gatherings of children outside the school setting.
- Local public health education campaigns that involve community partners can build public confidence in the ability to cope with an influenza pandemic. Partners may include schools, faith-based organizations, community-based organizations, and other "civil society" institutions that can help educate the public and provide support to families and persons who are incapacitated by illness.
- Much of the work in identifying and evaluating potential sites for isolation should be conducted in advance of an outbreak as part of preparedness planning. Options for existing structures include community health centers, nursing homes, apartments, schools, dormitories, and hotels.
Source: NSPRA s Outbreak of a Skin Rash-- by Irene Cromer, Supervisor, Community Relations Prince William County, Manassas, VA
- Build a good relationship with the local clinic/health department before a crisis happens.
- Be honest. Explain reason for actions or non-actions.
- Be accessible to the news media, and stick to priority "talking points."
- Take concerns seriously-empathize.
- Keep community informed of steps that are being taken.
- Communicate information as it becomes available.
- Establish a procedure for handling medical crises.
- Make decisions that are best for your school and district
- Use school menus or newsletters to print key differences between flu and avian flu
- Provide accurate and concise information to the media and public.
- Address concerns and fears.