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District Updates on the H1N1 Influenza Outbreak Can Be Found on the Department of Health Homepage

Friday, May 1, 2009

District Updates on the H1N1 Influenza Outbreak Can Be Found on the Department of Health Homepage

311 Launches H1N1 Call Center, new resources for residents, schools and businesses.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and the DC Department of Health (DOH) announced new informational resources on the H1N1 influenza virus, also known as swine flu, for District residents, businesses and educational institutions.  DOH continues to actively monitor the known and potential cases in the region and across the country (the District announced its first two probable cases of the H1N1 influenza virus on Friday, May 1.)  The Centers for Disease Control expects the number of cases in the United States to continue to increase and be identified in new locations.

“As we identify potential cases in the District and the greater metropolitan area it’s important for residents to remember that the best way to prevent the spread of disease is to wash your hands frequently, cover your cough with your arm or your sleeve and stay home from work or school if you are sick,” said Dr. PierreVigilance, DOH Director.  “As with any flu virus, we should do our part to help prevent others from getting sick.”

New Informational Resources Available for Residents, Schools and Businesses
Residents can now use the Mayor’s Citywide Call Center to ask questions about the H1N1 virus to health professionals.  By dialing 311, residents can get the latest information from the District, the CDC and on the virus.  Residents calling from a non-DC number can call 202-737-4404.

The District has created a H1N1 information page at www.doh.dc.gov to provide up to date information on H1N1 and resources for individuals, homes, schools and business.  DOH will continue to update the site regularly with new resources and guides.

The site includes information on:

• the H1N1 virus
• safely caring for family members who potentially have H1N1
• sanitizing areas that may have been contaminated by the virus
• preparing for a possible influenza outbreak at your education campus or business
• talking to children about H1N1
• preventing the spread of H1N1

In addition, the Department of Health has issued clinical guidelines to clinical providers in the District.  If you are a clinical provider and have not received these guidelines, please contact Tavis Steenbeke at (202) 671-0730 Monday through Friday 8:15 am to 4:45 pm.

About the H1N1 Influenza Virus
The H1N1 virus is a new strain of influenza (the flu) that is a combination of four strains of influenza including swine influenza.  Symptoms of influenza include runny nose or nasal congestion, cough, sore throat and a fever above 100 degrees. The incubation period from time of exposure to illness is 2 to 5 days. Anyone who thinks they have flu-like symptoms should call their healthcare provider.  Healthcare providers can advise residents on treatment and prepare to see a patient in person without putting other patients at risk of catching the disease.

This is the first time the strain has been documented in humans and there is not currently a vaccine to protect people from contracting the disease. The best way to prevent the spread is to follow simple hygiene rules:

•    Frequent hand washing with soap and warm water
•    Avoid touching the eyes, mouth and nose
•    Influenza is spread from person to person by sneezes and coughs - cover sneezes and coughs with your sleeve or a tissue
•    Avoid contact with those who are already ill
•    Individuals who are ill should avoid crowded public places as much as possible and keep a 6 foot distance between people at work and other public places
•    Anyone with a fever and respiratory illness should stay home from work or school to avoid spreading infections, including influenza and other respiratory illnesses, to others in their communities

For more information and updates regarding the swine influenza, please follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/, http://www.cdc.gov/Spanish or call 311.