Maryland Moves to Reduce Impact of H1N1 Flu in Schools, Public
New CDC guidance for K-12, Vaccinations, closings released; DHMH reports fifth H1N1 (Swine) Flu-related Death
ANNAPOLIS, MD (August 7, 2009) –In an effort to reduce the impact of the novel H1N1 influenza virus in schools and the general public, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued new guidance for state and local health officials and school administrators. With a focus on limiting the disruption of day-to-day activities and the vital learning process for Maryland's estimated one million students, such actions may include voluntary vaccination programs within local schools.
“Protecting the health of all Marylanders, particularly school-age children, remains our priority as we continue to plan and prepare for a resurgence of the H1N1 flu this fall,” said Governor Martin O'Malley. “We're working closely with our federal and local partners to ensure we are as prepared as possible to meet this challenge with every tool available so that we can decrease the spread of this novel flu virus. As Maryland families prepare for the new school year, they should be assured that local, state, and federal officials are working diligently to address the public health concerns that the H1N1 strain presents.”
The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) has reported Maryland's fifth death associated with the novel H1N1 pandemic influenza to the CDC. The latest report involves an adult from the Washington suburbs who had underlying medical conditions. As before, personal details about the case, including age, gender and specific jurisdiction of residence, will not be released to protect the privacy of the resident and the resident's family.
“Our sympathies go out to the families and friends of those who have died in association with the novel H1N1 pandemic influenza,” said Frances Phillips, DHMH Deputy Secretary for Public Health. “With seasonal flu season rapidly approaching, we remain vigilant and concerned for those Marylanders who are pregnant or have chronic underlying health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease or an illness that requires medication affecting the immune system. While we wait for the development and delivery of a vaccine, everyone should practice good hygiene and cough etiquette to protect themselves and their loved ones.”
The CDC reports as of August 7, 2009 that 436 people nationwide have died after contracting novel H1N1 influenza and 6,506 people have been hospitalized. CDC and state health departments have discontinued reporting of ill individuals as of July 24th.*
More H1N1 flu-related deaths are expected, as seen with seasonal flu. Symptoms of influenza include fever, cough, and sore throat. Additional symptoms may include chills, headache, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea or shortness of breath.
Based on CDC figures, it is estimated that 1,000 Marylanders die every year from seasonal flu or its complications. Complications and death are more common among those with serious underlying health conditions.
According to the CDC, people at a higher risk of serious health consequences from the H1N1 flu virus are the same as those with seasonal flu:
- Children less than 5 years old
- Persons aged 65 years or older
- Pregnant women
- Residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities
- Persons who are extremely obese
- Adults and children who have chronic pulmonary, cardiovascular, hepatic, hematological, neurologic, neuromuscular, or metabolic disorders
- Adults and children who have immunosuppression (including immunosuppression caused by medications or by HIV)
- Children and adolescents (less than 18 years) who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who might be at risk for experiencing Reye syndrome after influenza virus infection
As with seasonal flu, the best protection from contracting or spreading the novel H1N1 flu virus is to practice good personal hygiene:
- Wash your hands often, especially after coughing, sneezing, and wiping or blowing the nose
- If you have flu symptoms, stay home and avoid contact with other people to protect them from catching your illness.
- Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing
- Use paper tissues when wiping or blowing your nose; throw tissues away after use
- Stay away from crowded living and sleeping spaces, if possible