(Note: The following blast email was sent to ~80,000 members of the UW community with a “@.uwashington.edu” email address)
Sent on behalf of the University of Washington Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases (ACCD): Many of you have learned from print, radio, TV, and/or colleagues about the swine influenza virus that has caused 68 confirmed deaths in Mexico. Animal influenza viruses usually do not cause illness in humans. This particular virus is not being transmitted from pigs to humans and you cannot get the virus from eating pork. The infection appears to be transmitted from humans to humans only.
What we know
Currently there are no reported cases of swine influenza virus in the State of Washington. On April 26, 2009, infections from the swine influenza virus were confirmed in persons living in California, Texas, Kansas, New York City and Ohio. There have also been confirmed cases in British Columbia. No deaths have occurred in the United States or Canada. The total number of cases in the United States is currently only 40. The symptoms of swine influenza are the same from the seasonal influenza. All cases in the United States have exhibited mild symptoms. These symptoms are
- Fever > 100 degrees
- Body aches
- Sore throat
- Respiratory congestion
- Possible vomiting and diarrhea
Persons returning from areas with active cases (Mexico, southern California, San Antonio region of Texas, New York City, Kansas) with the above symptoms should contact their health care provider. Seattle Campus students at the University of Washington who are exhibiting these symptoms are strongly encouraged to schedule an appointment at Hall Health Primary Care Center (206-616-2495).To speak to a triage nurse at Hall Health, call 206-221-2517.
This will help the UW identify any swine influenza cases early.
Also, the UW is in the process of setting up a Campus Health System website to collect information regarding employee illness to track any unusual clusters of respiratory illnesses. More information will be distributed once this has been established.
Ways to prevent illness
Simple precautions can greatly reduce the risk of spread. These include:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough. Throw the tissue in the trash. An alternative is to cough into your sleeve if you do not have a tissue.
- Wash your hands with soap and water frequently. You may also use alcohol based hand sanitizers.
- Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
- If you are sick with the above symptoms, stay home from school and/or work.
- There is no current vaccine to prevent swine influenza virus
There are antiviral medications that can be given to reduce the symptoms from the swine influenza virus. These work best when given within 2 days of symptom onset.
This afternoon (April 27, 2009) the Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) issued new warnings:
The CDC recommends that U.S. travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Mexico. The UW has adopted this CDC recommendation.
The WHO has issued a Level 4 Alert regarding the swine influenza virus. Level 4 is initiated when there is confirmed human-to-human transmission of an animal virus in humans. This type of virus has the potential to cause serious community outbreaks. Level 4 indicates an increased risk for a pandemic. However, it does not signify that a pandemic will occur.
The information from the CDC, WHO, and local health officials is evolving. The following websites will provide the most up to date information:
UW Emergency Management website at http://www.washington.edu/emergency US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/swineflu/investigation.htm World Health Organization at www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/
Most UW department websites link directly to the UW Emergency Management website. This website will maintain the latest UW information regarding the swine influenza virus.
UW health and emergency preparedness and response officials and the UW Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases are monitoring the outbreak of swine flu. These UW groups are coordinating preparation and response activities for the UW community based on input and guidance from local, statewide and regional public health officials as the situation evolves. We will issue updates to the University community as more information becomes available.