THIS IS AN EXERCISE: THIS IS NOT A REAL EVENT.
DATE: June 11, 2008
TIME: 1:00 PM
Today the World Health Organization declared Phase 4 of an influenza pandemic, following the confirmation of limited human-to-human transmission of influenza A H5N1 in the country of Romania.
In response, the US CDC has authorized the activation of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) to begin the distribution of critical medical supplies in preparation for a possible pandemic in the United States.
CDC reports that Vermont is the only state with confirmed cases of people with H5N1. However, there are reports of unconfirmed cases in northern New York state and New Hampshire. Also, there are confirmed cases reported in Canada with one confirmed death from the disease.
CDC has placed restrictions on hospitals and emergency responders from transporting people with flu-like symptoms across state lines. Mutual restrictions apply between Vermont and Canada.
- A small number of patients have been admitted to seven Vermont hospitals with flu-like symptoms, including high fever and severe reparatory symptoms overnight. The individuals are from a wide geographic area and their symptoms are both similar and severe. They are receiving the appropriate medical care.
- We are in the process of confirming the number of cases now in Vermont Hospitals. The Vermont Department of Health Laboratory has preliminarily confirmed cases and has sent patient samples to the CDC for confirmatory testing. We expect the results from the CDC within 24 hours or less.
- What we know so far is that Fletcher Allen Health Care has admitted 15 patients and 6 are on ventilators. Grace Cottage Hospital has reported 10 patients with H5N1 and Copley Hospital has reported 4. Again, patients are receiving proper care and treatment.
At the moment, we are particularly concerned about individuals who have:
- traveled recently (within less than 10 days) to Romania
- a temperature of >38 degrees C or >104 degrees F
- been diagnosed of pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), or other severe respiratory illness.
If you or someone in your household meets any of these criteria, please contact your medical provider immediately.
If you have been in close contact (within 1 meter or 3 feet) to an ill person who was confirmed or suspected to have H5N1, please let your medical provider know. You should be considered for testing even if you don’t show symptoms. It is possible that you could be infected and capable of spreading the virus even if you do not have symptoms.
If you have only mild symptoms of the H5N1 virus, or only a history of exposure to a person who has been confirmed or suspected of having the virus, you may be able to remain at home or in other community-based settings.
Treatment for H5N1 may include the antiviral drugs Tamiflu and Relenza and other forms of care.
While many pharmacies and hospitals keep anti-viral medications on hand, the CDC is distributing stockpiles of antivirals to throughout the US as a precaution, which will reach US distribution centers in the next 48 hours. Personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies will be shipped once antivirals have arrived.
The Vermont Department of Health is coordinating other state agencies and with health system partners and manage health care system resources and information. We will continue to provide guidance to health care system partners on clinical management and infection control.
We ask that every Vermonter take the following steps to protect themselves, their families, and households from the H5N1 virus:
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with warm water and soap for 20 seconds.
- Make sure to wash your hands before eating, or touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- If caring for ill persons, wash hands after providing assistance.
- Always wash your hands after sneezing, blowing your nose, or coughing, or after touching used tissues or handkerchiefs.
- If hand washing is not possible, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes. When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with tissue, or cough and sneeze into your upper sleeve. Put used tissues in the trash.
- Don’t share items such as cigarettes, towels, lipstick, toys or anything else that might be contaminated with germs. Don’t share food, utensils or beverage containers with others.
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Minimize your exposure to ill people as much as possible. During a flu pandemic, this may mean avoiding large social gatherings and events, such as concerts, movie theaters, and sports venues.
The health department is committed to keeping the public informed. An update will be provided during a press conference scheduled for 1 p.m. on Thursday at the Health Department, 108 Cherry Street, Burlington, Vt.
Vermonters can get more information by dialing 2-1-1, or go to the Health Department web site: