CARE OF PANDEMIC INFLUENZA PATIENTS IN THE HOME
A. Care of pandemic influenza patients in the
Persons who have not been exposed
patient with influenza from other household
to pandemic influenza and who are not
Most patients with pandemic influenza will be
essential for patient care or support should
able to remain at home during the course of
not enter the home while persons are
their illness and can be cared for by other
actively ill with pandemic influenza.
family members or others who live in the
performed after handling soiled laundry.
household. Anyone residing in a household
home, they should avoid close contact with the
Tissues used by the ill patient should be
with an influenza patient during the incubation
period and illness is at risk for developing
influenza. A key objective in this setting is to
pandemic influenza patient should limit contact
limit transmission of pandemic influenza
with the patient to the extent possible; consider
within and outside the home. When care is
designating one person as the primary care
emphasized (e.g., segregating the ill patient,
closely for the development of influenza
hand hygiene). Infection within the household
symptoms and contact a telephone hotline or
may be minimized if a primary caregiver is
medical care provider if symptoms occur.
designated; ideally someone who does not
Infection control measures in the
have an underlying condition that places them
at increased risk of severe influenza disease.
Although no studies have assessed the use
of masks at home to decrease the spread of
carefully follow recommendations for hand
infection, use of surgical or procedure masks
hygiene (i.e., hand washing with soap and
water or use of an alcohol-based hand rub)
after contact with an influenza patient or the
Management of influenza patients
use of masks at home to decrease the spread
influenza from non-ill persons living in the
of infection, use of surgical or procedure masks
surfaces in the home should be followed.
interactions may be of benefit. The wearing of
during the period when they are most likely to
Courtesy of Michael Newton: Noble County
be infectious to others (i.e., 5 days after onset
home is necessary (e.g., for medical care), the
Soiled dishes and eating utensils should
patient should follow cough etiquette (i.e., cover
sneezing) and wear procedure or surgical
Separation of eating utensils for use by a
masks if available. Consider communicating
patient with influenza is not necessary.
Management of other persons in the
separate soiled linen and laundry used by a
4. How can an influenza pandemic be
zanamivir) are approved by the U.S. Food and
A: It is nearly impossible to avoid another
and/or prevention of influenza. However, only
influenza pandemic. Instead, plans must be
oseltamivir appears to be effective against
developed to be as prepared as possible when a
the H5N1 influenza virus strains currently
circulating in Asia. Supplies of antiviral
5. Are we prepared for an influenza
Influenza Pandemic Q & A
1. What is influenza pandemic?
A: Plans for responding to the next influenza
8. Are there enough resources available to
A: An influenza pandemic is a global outbreak of
pandemic are being developed at the state,
handle an influenza pandemic?
disease that occurs when a new influenza
federal, and even international levels. These plans
A: An influenza pandemic would require a large-
virus appears or “emerges” in the human
scale response, both in terms of personnel
population, causes serious illness, and then
determine how to make best use of available
and material resources. A great deal of work is
spreads easily from person to person worldwide.
resources to protect people from infection,
to care for patients, and to limit the spread of
those resources, and to identify where and how
of illness, death, social disruption, and economic
6. Is there a vaccine available?
9. What quarantine/isolation orders will be
2. How is an influenza pandemic different
A: A vaccine probably would not be available in
issued during an influenza pandemic?
from a normal influenza outbreak?
the early stages of a pandemic, or would be
A: The severity of the pandemic would determine
A: Seasonal outbreaks of influenza are caused by
available in very limited amounts. When a new
issued. However, the State Health Commissioner
already in existence among people, whereas
being developed, scientists around the world
work together to select the virus strain that
action if it is deemed to be necessary. Local
will offer the best protection against that virus,
Health Officers also have similar authority
circulated among people or that have not
circulated among people for a long time. Also,
strain to develop a vaccine. Once a potential
10. How can people protect themselves?
A: The same steps that individuals can take to
during what is considered the “normal” influenza
identified, it usually takes at least six months
protect themselves from seasonal outbreaks of
before a vaccine will be widely available. If
influenza will also be critical during a pandemic.
3. When will the next influenza pandemic
a pandemic occurs, it is expected that the U.S.
thorough hand washing and various “respiratory
A: It is impossible to predict when the next
groups to make recommendations to guide the
hygiene” practices such as covering your
pandemic will occur, but many scientists believe
mouth when you sneeze or cough. It will also be
it is only a matter of time. The last pandemic was
7. Can antiviral medications be useful during
A: Four influenza antiviral dications
work or school while ill and to seek medical
caused about 34,000 deaths in the United States.
(amantadine, rimantadine, oseltamivir, and
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