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UCSF Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Issues Campuswide H1N1 Flu Update

UCSF Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Josh Adler, MD, issued an email message to the campus community on Friday, reporting that UCSF Medical Center is expanding its infection control measures after 10 patients were admitted to the hospital with probable H1N1 influenza.

Novel H1N1 (referred to as “swine flu” early on) is a new influenza virus that was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. Today, more than 70 countries are reporting cases of human infection with novel H1N1 flu, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here is Adler’s entire message:

Dear Colleagues,

This week, UCSF Medical Center expanded its infection control measures after 10 patients were admitted to the hospital with probable H1N1 influenza, including two patients who are critically ill. In addition, several clinic patients and 13 employees are known to have developed flu-like illness. In total, 44 patients have tested positive for influenza A at UCSF since June 1. The hospital patients are being specifically tested for Novel H1N1 Influenza A, also called swine flu. Although the results of those tests probably won’t be available for several weeks, data from the state public health lab suggests that the majority of specimens being tested are H1N1.

To prevent further spread, patient care staff – including doctors, nurses, students and volunteers who work on units housing patients with probable H1N1 – are being screened for possible exposure and offered the antiviral medication Tamiflu. All employees who feel ill should stay home to protect their co-workers and our patients.

The hospital has notified all employees who may have been exposed to H1N1 and has set up a daily clinic for flu screening, and to answer employee questions. Sick call volume remains at a normal level.

All visitors to UCSF Medical Center who have fever, cough, runny nose or other flu-like symptoms are asked to stay home until they are symptom-free.

It is important to emphasize that based on current information, infection with the H1N1 strain is no more severe than the standard annual flu. The primary justification to administer preventative antiviral medication to employees is to prevent the spread of the virus to patients, who may be at risk for serious illness or complications.

Public health authorities recommend taking the following precautions to reduce your risk of getting sick or spreading infection if you are ill:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you cough or sneeze.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you get sick, stay home and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

Health care professionals are in the best position to determine if you need influenza testing. If you develop flu-like symptoms (high fever, cough, runny nose, body aches, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea), contact your primary care doctor. Students on campus should contact Student Health Services. But try to avoid unwarranted visits to health care providers.

Sincerely,

Josh Adler, MD
Chief Medical Officer
UCSF Medical Center

Related Links:

H1N1 (Swine) Influenza Guidance for Healthcare Professionals
San Francisco Department of Public Health

UCSF Occupational Health Program

FAQ on H1N1 Influenza A (Swine Flu)
UCSF Today