California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director Dr. Mark Horton today provided an update on actions being undertaken by the state to respond to the H1N1 swine flu outbreak and the latest data on California cases.
“The situation continues to be fluid, and health officials remain concerned,” said Dr. Horton. “We have seen a slow and steady unfolding of the numbers, but we are very reticent to make any predictions based on what we know at this time.”
In California, there are 17 confirmed cases in 16 counties, with a total of three hospitalizations. All three of those patients recovered and were released from hospitals.
Today, Dr. Horton announced that the CDPH is concurring with updated interim guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) related to schools and other facilities for children where there has been a confirmed case of swine flu.
If a school dismisses students or a childcare facility closes, schools and childcare facilities should close for up to 14 days depending on the extent and severity of the illness and in close consultation with local and state public health officials. This length of time is recommended because children are likely to be infectious for about seven to 10 days after the onset of illness. http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/k12_dismissal.htm
In addition, CDPH has:
- Launched a toll-free H1N1 swine flu information hotline Thursday: 1-888-865-0564. The line is available Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on weekends from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (NOTE: As of July 1, 2010, this hotline is no longer in service.)
- Distributed swine flu infection control recommendations for hospitalized patients to all California hospitals. http://ww2.cdph.ca.gov/HealthInfo/discond/Documents/CDPH_Swine_Flu_Infection_Control_Recommendations.pdf
- Issued interim mask and respirator guidance for the public. CDPH is recommending that rather than relying on the use of facemasks or respirators, to try to stay at least 6 feet away from people who might be ill. However, persons with increased exposure risk, primarily individuals for whom close contact with an infectious person is unavoidable, N95 masks should be considered. Ill persons should of course remain at home with the exception of seeking medical care. If outside of the home, ill individuals should wear a facemask. http://ww2.cdph.ca.gov/HealthInfo/discond/Documents/CDPH_Swine_Flu_Interim_Mask_Respirator_Guidance.pdf
- Taken steps to begin conducting its own confirmatory testing for this strain of H1N1 swine flu without having to send samples to the CDC, which will greatly speed up detection efforts in California.
There is no vaccine available right now to protect against H1N1 swine flu. However, there are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza, such as:
- Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Washing your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective. Like regular flu, the H1N1 swine flu virus can live for several days on surfaces, such as doorknobs and computer keyboards.
- Trying to avoid close contact with sick people.
- Avoiding social gatherings if you are ill or if you have medical conditions that put you at risk for flu complications.
The symptoms of H1N1 swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu.
If you get sick with influenza, the CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, and contact your health care provider.