Status Update

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.

At the moment, we are particularly concerned about individuals who have:

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:

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:

http://healthvermont.gov/emerg/med-surgeDRILL/index.aspx

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