By Michelle Butzgy ParaglideApril 30, 2009
As of Wednesday, the H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine influenza, has 91 confirmed cases in Arizona, California, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New York, Ohio and Texas as well as cases worldwide in Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, Isreal and New Zealand. North Carolina has not reported any confirmed or suspected cases, however there is a travel risk advisory in effect, according to Womack Army Medical Center officials. The hospital has educated its staff on the possibility of patients sick with the flu. "Education has been provided to the healthcare staff and Fort Bragg community on how to protect themselves and how to identify those who may have been potentially exposed," said Maj. Brigitte Polk, Womack Army Medical Center chief of public health. "The education team has re-iterated CDC and North Carolina Public Health warnings. They have taken a proactive approach by using internal electronic media in the hospital and Corps PAO assets," she said. The current flu vaccine does not protect against H1N1 flu, according to Polk. Symptoms include sudden onset of fever greater than 100.5 degrees, coughing and/or sore throat. Other symptoms include headache, chills, loss of appetite, muscle aches and fatigue. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may also occur. After people become infected, symptoms can occur up to 7 days after exposure. A person is contagious one day prior to onset of symptoms throughout the duration, usually lasting seven days. Fort Bragg Schools\' administrators, supervisors, nurses, teachers and staff are also alert and aware of the epidemic. Leadership is closely monitoring the information received from Department of Defense Education Activity Office of Safety and Security and continuously updating staff as needed, according to Mary Majors, Ed. D., Fort Bragg Schools administrative point-of-contact for school nurses. "There are actions we are taking to help stop the spread of the virus. Supervisors, school administrators and school nurses are being watchful for flu-like symptoms, reviewing local pandemic influenza response plans updating all emergency phone numbers and POCs and coordinating with the host military command and military medical authorities," she said. Fort Bragg Schools' nurses and teachers routinely implement health education curriculum to include preventing the spread of diseases, signs and symptoms of flu, according to Majors. H1N1 flu is primarily passed from person-to-person through coughing and sneezing. If you get sick, the CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. Keep sick children at home. Call your primary care clinic for additional information. To prevent infection of the H1N1 flu, wash hands often for 15 to 20 seconds with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. To help children wash their hands for the recommended amount of time, have them sing Happy Birthday twice while they wash. Also, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and dispose of the tissue in the trash after you use it. For more information, call WAMC's flu hotline at 910-907-7358.
Q. Is the vaccine Soldiers received in 1976 still good'
A. The influenza seen in this outbreak has not been previously detected in pigs or humans. The 1976 vaccine was made against a different strain of influenza and would not protect against this one.
Q. What plans do hospitals have in case of a breakout'
A. Military and civilian hospitals have emergency response plans for mass casualty situations and epidemics. The military health system developed these plans to deal with emerging diseases, such as pandemic influenza, and are coordinated with the civilian system to ensure close cooperation with the civil authorities.
Q. Who is most vulnerable to infection or death'
A. Influenza typically is most dangerous for the very old or very young. According to the World Health Organization Web Site, the majority of these cases have occurred in otherwise healthy young adults. As more is learned about this particular outbreak, there will be more information on who is most vulnerable to this infection.
Q. Have any Soldiers or other Army patients been infected'
A. We are aggressively monitoring any soldiers hospitalized for influenza-like illnesses. To date, there have been no confirmed cases of Swine Influenza in any soldiers or in any patients in Army hospitals.
Q. What is the Army doing as far as education and prevention'
A. The Army is working closely with the rest of the Department of Defense and with the Department of Health and Human Services to provide a coordinated response to this outbreak.
Q. Will the flu shot provided in Fall 2008 protect people from strain of influenza'
A. This H1N1 strain is different than the human strains that were used in creating the vaccine in 2008. Therefore, we would not expect any protection from the vaccine for this particular strain. The vaccine will protect against the commonly occurring strains of human influenza.
Q. Why do 20 infections constitute an emergency or an epidemic'
A. This is from the HHS website:
The Department of Health and Human Services issued a nationwide public health emergency declaration in response to recent human infections with a newly discovered influenza A (H1N1) virus. The formal declaration of a Public Health Emergency is a tool that facilitates HHSAca,!a,,c preparation and mobilization for disasters and emergencies. For example, PHEs were recently declared for flooding in North Dakota, the Inauguration, and several 2008 hurricanes.
TodayAca,!a,,cs declaration, made under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, will help HHS prepare for prevention and mitigation activities by enabling Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorizations of drugs, devices, or medical tests under certain circumstances.
Specifically, todayAca,!a,,cs PHE will enable the FDA to review and issue emergency use authorizations for the use of certain laboratory tests to help detect the newly discovered strain of influenza and for the emergency use of certain antivirals.
Aca,!A"HHS is taking these steps today to be proactive in responding to this new influenza virus by offering national tools in support of community-led preparedness and response efforts,Aca,!A? said Charles Johnson, Acting HHS Secretary. Aca,!A"The declaration allows us the flexibility, while we learn more about the virus and its impact in the United States, to take additional steps to fully mobilize our prevention, treatment and mitigation capabilities should those actions become necessary.Aca,!A?
In addition to the declaration, HHS leaders are working together across operating divisions to coordinate response to the H1N1 flu outbreak. For example, the FDA, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working together to develop a vaccine precursor that could be used to develop a vaccine for H1N1 virus.
Q. Are deployed Servicemembers in danger of infection'
A. Based on the most recent information, deployed service members are at no increased risk of infection. The Army is encouraging everyone to follow the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control on what can be done to stay healthy.
Q. Is this an epidemic or pandemic and what is the difference'
A. An outbreak is when there is an increase in the number of cases of a disease above the baseline levels. When there are a large number of cases that constitutes an epidemic. When there are multiple sites around the world of large numbers of cases that is a pandemic. The CDC is currently calling this an epidemic, but both military and civilian experts around the world are monitoring this closely.