Tuesday, May 5, 2009

UCSF experts weigh in, calm fears, on flu outbreak - UCSF News Office

UCSF experts weigh in, calm fears, on flu outbreak - UCSF News Office

CDC no longer recommending immediate school closures

Based on the mildness of swine flu cases in the United States, the CDC has updated its guidance as of today and no longer recommends the immediate closure of K-12 schools based on a single suspected case of H1N1 or swine flu. The main recommendation now is the same as in other populations: keep sick people home and isolated, encourage frequent handwashing, and cover your mouth when you cough (not with your hands!) For more details: CDC H1N1 Flu | Update on School (K – 12) Dismissal and Childcare Facilities

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Tam High in Mill Valley shut for flu fear

Marin health officials are closing Mill Valley's Tamalpais High School for three days while one suspected swine flu case there is investigated.

More info at http://marinij.com and http://marinflu.org. -- Post From My iPhone

Now 29 California cases

State reporting now 29 H1N1 cases confirmed; 130 more "probable" cases being investigated further. A school in Berkeley now joins the small list of schools (one in Marin, a few in Santa Clara) in the Bay area closed as a precaution after one student got sick. It definitely appears that the spread is relatively slow -- my guess is that the precautions may be working. Keep washing those hands! -- Post From My iPhone

Now 26 confirmed cases in California, two more "probable" in Marin

The state health department now reports 26 confirmed cases of #swineflu or #H1N1 in California. Most of the cases are in southern California counties near Mexico - Imperial, San Diego and San Bernadino.

In Marin County, the local health department reports two more "probable" cases, including one in a 35-year-old man who had not been to Mexico. This would indicate probable human-to-human, or second generation, infection, which is a step closer to "pandemic" if it becomes widespread. Note that the illnesses in these individuals have all been reported to be minor. More information is on the Marin County health department's flu update page.

The state updates are posted on the state web site.

View CDPH Swine Flu Tracking in a larger map

Swine flu implications for travel

Reports during the past few days of commerical planes being diverted to alternate airports, passengers being quarantined, hotels being cordoned off, and of course Vice President Joe Biden's absurd comments have raised concerns among people planning travel. 

Here is an attempt to separate some of the facts from fiction.

Flu, including swine flu, is transmitted by droplets. Unless you are within about three feet of an infected and contagious individual, the risk is relatively small. The primary guidance for managing a suspected sick passenger on an airplane is to try to move other passengers so that there is nobody within 3-6 feet of the individual, to provide a surgical mask for the ill passenger (to prevent their sneezes or coughs from infecting others), and for flight crews to use disposable gloves when handling possibly infected materials from the passenger. The crew also has to alert U.S. health officials prior to landing, who are to make the appropriate arrangements for medical personnel to meet the plane on arrival. The CDC has traveler quarantine stations in about 20 cities, so diverting an aircraft would seem to be an unlikely -- and very costly -- event.

The CDC also has very specific recommendations for cleaning airplanes, trains, cabs, and other transit vehicles during an outbreak. The cleaning focuses on areas where a suspected ill passenger or crew member was located. On airplanes, cleaning with a disinfectant is recommended for all surfaces such as seat belt latches, armrests, tray tables, windowshades, and passenger controls such as lighting and audio.

The flu virus can survive outside the human body for more than 24 hours, but the CDC says that it is highly doubtful that sufficient amounts to be infectious would be present on any surfaces on an airplane or other conveyance after many hours.

If you are traveling, the most practical advice from the CDC is to carry a pocket-sized alcohol gel so that you can keep your hands clean throughout your flight or other travel. Although this does not take the place of thorough hand washing with hot water and soap, it is a very effective interim measure.

For more information, visit the CDC's Travel Notices page, which is frequently updated.