Friday, September 11, 2009

H1N1 influenza pandemic updates from the World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released a series of updates about what they are calling the H1N1 influenza pandemic.

WHO updates included information about steps that schools can take to minimize the spread of H1N1, as well as general information about preparing for a second wave of outbreak.

According to the WHO website, “Experience to date has demonstrated the role of schools in amplifying transmission of the pandemic virus, both within schools and into the wider community. While outbreaks in schools are clearly an important dimension of the current pandemic, no single measure can stop or limit transmission in schools, which provide multiple opportunities for spread of the virus.”

Instead of a single solution, WHO recommends that in addition to measures taken by national and local authorities, all students, teachers, and staff who feel unwell should stay home. And, in case there is incidence of illness at school, there should be plans in place to isolate the illness.

The primary health benefit of proactive measures like these is “slowing down the spread of an outbreak within a given area and thus flattening the peak of infections. This benefit becomes especially important when the number of people requiring medical care at the peak of the pandemic threatens to saturate or overwhelm health care capacity. By slowing the speed of spread, school closure can also buy some time as countries intensify preparedness measures or build up supplies of vaccines, antiviral drugs, and other interventions.”

For more information about school measures and the H1N1 influenza pandemic, read more on the WHO website here:

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