THIS IS AN EXERCISE: THIS IS NOT A REAL EVENT.
No confirmed cases of H5N1 in humans in Vermont.
For Immediate Release: July 24, 2006
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
BURLINGTON – The Vermont Department of Health issued a health advisory today after eight students were quarantined who may have been exposed to avian influenza, according to health services officials at the University of Vermont and Southern Vermont College.
The eight students, including four students at the University of Vermont in Burlington and four students at Southern Vermont College in Bennington, are not currently showing symptoms of the virus. The students will undergo testing by health department investigators and anyone showing symptoms of the virus will be voluntarily quarantined for eight days. Students who test negative will be released.
The cause of the exposure is connected to rafting trips the students participated in while in Canada.
“As a precaution the students will be given antiviral medications, and specimens will be collected through throat and nasal swabs to test for exposure,” said Sharon Moffatt, RN, MSN, Acting Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health. “The students have been treated with antiviral medication.”
Vermont will also be receiving an emergency supply of avian influenza human vaccine from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for use by select first responders, who will be vaccinated as a precautionary measure.
A list of any close contacts students may have had will be compiled. Those contacts will not be placed under quarantine unless a positive test is confirmed.
On Friday, July 17 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that the strain of avian influenza confirmed in several people in California and Toronto, Canada is readily transmissible from person to person and could lead to a pandemic.
“At this time it appears that the situation in California is under control,” Commissioner Moffatt said. “There have not been any further cases identified in the United States.
“I want to say again that currently there are no confirmed cases of avian influenza in Vermont,” Moffatt said. “The students exposed to the virus continue to show no symptoms and a full and thorough investigation is underway. In the meantime, we will take optimal precautions to protect public health."
Commissioner Moffatt also urged Vermonters to continue to prepare for the possibility of the virus spreading, considering cases have been confirmed in California.
Vermont’s health care providers continue to aggressively look for signs of the disease. Providers are required to report to the Health Department any patients with travel history to an area that has been impacted by avian influenza who: 1) have a temperature greater than 100.4 degrees with a cough or sore throat, pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), or other severe respiratory illness or 2) have had close contact (within 3 feet) with individuals suspected or confirmed to have the H5N1 avian influenza.
A total of 75 human cases in California, including 25 confirmed cases, have been reported by the CDC. All 75 travelers visited either Australia, Tokyo or Bangkok, or had close contact with visitors to those areas. Toronto, Canada has 11 confirmed human cases.
The CDC has restricted travel to-and-from Australia, Tokyo and Bangkok and continues to advise people against non-essential travel to any area that has been impacted by avian flu.
The current situation is not a pandemic. A pandemic is a worldwide outbreak of a new and severe strain of influenza that can spread easily from person to person. Three conditions must be met before a pandemic can take place.
1. A new or novel influenza virus emerges and infects people.
2. The virus causes severe illness.
3. The virus spreads easily from person to person.
To limit the spread of germs and prevent infection:
· Teach your children to wash hands frequently with soap and water, and model the correct behavior.
· Teach your children to cover coughs and sneezes with tissues, and be sure to model that behavior.
· Teach your children to stay away from others as much as possible if they are sick. Stay home from work and school if sick.
For a full list of precautions and preparations families can take to prepare for a possible pandemic , please visit: http://healthvermont.gov/emerg/opf/checklist.aspx. Anyone who demonstrates the symptoms above should contact their physician or local health provider.
Vermonters with questions or concerns should call the Health Department Information Line at: 211
For more information on pandemic flu, please visit: http://healthvermont.gov.