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West Virginia Office of
Emergency Medical Services

350 Capitol Street
Room 425
Charleston WV, 25301

Toll Free: 1-888--747-8367
OEMS Phone: (304) 558-3956
OEMS Fax: (304) 558-8379
Trauma Phone: (304) 558-7124
Trauma Fax: (304) 558-7125

Swine Flu and EMS

While the information contained in this news article was current and accurate when we posted it, it may not necessarily represent current WVOEMS policy or procedure. If you have any questions, please contact our office at 304-558-3956.

Posted: Thursday, April 30, 2009 9:33 AM

As we face the current outbreak of swine influenza in the US and around the world, the Office of EMS felt there were some points which were important to share with the state's EMS providers:

  • The swine flu outbreak is an evolving situation nationally which means that information is changing daily and sometimes hourly. It is important to find credible information sources you can return to regularly for the latest info and guidance - the CDC, your state and local health departments and etc.
  • Swine influenza is a respiratory disease of pigs. These viruses do not normally infect humans; however, sporadic human infections have occurred. The current virus is unusual in that it more readily spreads person-to-person.
  • The incubation period for swine influenza is 2-7 days; similar to seasonal flu.
  • Your state and local health department is actively looking for disease. There have been no confirmed cases in WV at this time. We do expect swine flu will eventually be found in West Virginia.
  • Together, we are working with state and local partners to be prepared for response when the disease is found and begins to spread here. Public health officials are updated daily by authorities at the CDC.
  • At present, disease severity in the US is looking similar to seasonal flu. To date, a few, but not many of the confirmed cases, have required hospitalization and there has been at least one death.
  • Swine flu is not transmitted by food. A person cannot get swine influenza from eating pork products.
  • At this time there are no CDC recommendations to restrict travel plans to Texas, California, New York or Kansas. However, the CDC has issued a travel warning for the country of Mexico. All non-essential travel to Mexico should be postponed or reconsidered.

Important

We should be taking the same precautions we normally do during flu season.

During response to calls we should:

  • Consider the possibility of flu infection with any call for respiratory distress, cough, fever, or chills.
  • Follow your agency's policy for respiratory disease transmission prevention. The CDC currently recommends use of facemasks if you must be in a close environment with an individual who may have Swine Flu. If you must be close to a patient, use a NIOSH approved respirator with N95 filtering or above.
  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment as recommended by the most current guidelines.
  • Wash your hands and clean/disinfect your equipment thoroughly after each patient contact.

There are things we can all do to help reduce disease transmission:

  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Cough or sneeze into your arm or sleeve (not hands)
  • Avoid touching eyes, mouth, or nose.
  • If you are sick, stay at home and do not go to work or school.

Additional information is available on the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources' Infectious Disease Epidemiology Program website at www.wvidep.org or by visiting the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/swineflu.

If you have questions or need additional info, please feel free to contact me. I can be reached by email (deron.e.wilkes@wv.gov) or by telephone (304.558.3956).

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