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What DHCHD is doing

Posted by: tdt -

Public health officials are investigating multiple outbreaks of a new strain of influenza: the North American Influenza or swine flu. In Texas, as of April 30th, there are 26 cases of confirmed swine flu and one death; however, the outbreak is ongoing and additional cases are expected to be confirmed in the coming days.

Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by a type A influenza virus that has mutated to infect humans. Although most cases of swine flu do not infect humans, this strain appears to be a novel virus – one that was previously unfamiliar to the public health experts. As such, humans have little or no immunity to this virus, and there is currently no vaccine for it.

Texas hospitals are working closely with the Texas Department of State Health Services, local health departments and the other state officials to monitor the situation and ensure that accurate and timely information is provided to hospitals and the communities they serve.

What Your Hospital Is Doing: Our staff is using universal infection control methods such as frequent hand washing to prevent the spread of infections. Our hospital is actively monitoring for patients that may be infected. Patients with flu-like symptoms are being placed in a private room and kept separate from other patients as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In an epidemic situation, patients could be quartered into areas of the hospital that are specially designated for "flu-like symptom" patients only or patients that share similar symptoms. This is to ensure that other patients being treated by our facility, without "flu-like symptoms" are kept separate or protected from the spread of disease. Our staff and physicians are keeping up-to-date on the latest recommendations from the CDC and what additional precautions might be recommended. Our hospital has actively been involved in planning for just such events for many years. Our hope is this flu virus does not spread, but we have processes in place to support our communities should the outbreak continue to spread. Existing antiviral medications (Tamiflu) are effective against this new strain of flu virus.

What You Can Do: Patients who suspect they might have a case of flu should first call their physician’s office. It is strongly urged that patients do not go to the hospital emergency rooms unless they are experiencing severe signs of illness and have first consulted their physicians. This will help prevent the spread of the virus.

Signs and Symptoms: Fever of less than 100o F, a dry cough, headache, body chills, joint and muscle aches. Some may experience nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, especially in children.

Prevention of Spreading the Virus (Remember the 3 C’s): Clean – Wash your hands often. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner. Cover – Cover your cough. Use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Don’t have a tissue? The crook of your elbow will do. Contain – Contain germs by steering clear of others who are sick. If you do get sick, stay at home until you’re well again, so you don’t spread more germs.

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