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April 28 - Risk Alert for Parishes, Schools and Ministries of the Archdiocese of Boston - Swine Flu

Office of Risk Management and Parish Services

RISK ALERT
No. 2009-01
RE: Public Health Emergency Swine Flu                      April 27, 2009
WHO Pandemic Alert Level Now - Level 4

Due to an outbreak of swine flu, the US government declared a public health emergency.  Officials confirmed that there are currently 40 cases of swine flu in the US.  Twenty-eight cases are in NYC, where an outbreak occurred at a Catholic preparatory school in Queens.

The current swine influenza outbreak exhibits unusual characteristics of concern:

  • The outbreak is affecting adults and spreading through human-to-human transmissions, which is atypical as influenza typically targets young children and elderly individuals, and human contraction of swine influenza is normally associated with close contact with pigs; and
  • Although the outbreaks in Mexico and the United States have been genetically linked, the United States has experienced no fatalities related to the outbreak, whereas as many as 149 deaths in Mexico have been reported, and the Government of Mexico is investigating additional cases.

Symptoms
Sudden onset of:

  • Fever
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Coughing
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle aches, fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose

What to Do When Symptoms Are Present at Your Location

  • Ask student or staff member if they have traveled to the high risk areas (as of now, Mexico) over the last 5-10 days (incubation period is relatively short: 24-48 hours) and, if so:
    • Separate them by some distance (to the extent possible) from others
    • Send them home and require a doctor's note prior to return to school/work
    • Utilize masks and sanitizing liquids
    • Immediately notify the Office of Risk Management at 617-746-5742 in the event of any confirmation of swine flu at your location
    • If a school, immediately notify the Catholic Schools Office at
      617-779-3604 at the first confirmation of swine flu at your location
  • Refer any media inquiries to Terry Donilon’s office at 617-746-5775

Prevention
To help prevent and mitigate the spread of the disease, take the same precautions you would take for the seasonal flu:

  • Wipe your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze—throw the tissue away after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If you are not near water, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner or personal hand sanitzer.
  • Stay away as much as you can from people who are sick.
  • If you get the flu, stay home from work or school and see your personal physician.
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs often spread this way.

Website Resources

Risk Management’s Response

  • The Office of Risk Management recently published a special edition newsletter on preparing for an influenza pandemic.  A copy of the newsletter can be downloaded from our website: www.rcabrisk.org/p-newsletter/archives.
  • Our office can provide you with a pandemic planning checklist from the CDC. Call us at 617-746-5745 for a copy, or download a copy from our website: www.rcabrisk.org/other-resources (go to the bottom of the page and download the checklist that pertains to your institution).
  • The Office of Risk Management can assist you in the purchase of anti-bacterial/disinfectant dispensers to place in strategic locations throughout your facilities.  Call David Huskins for assistance at the number below.

For additional information, contact: