As you know there are now six confirmed cases of Swine Flu (H1N1) in Massachusetts. In the United States, as of May 4, 2009 (11 AM EDT), there are 286 reported cases across 36 states with only one death.
This is certainly not a time to panic, even though the media is heavily reporting on this strain of flu. Please remember that annually 36,000 people in the United States die from seasonal flu-related complications. The threat of a pandemic flu has been on the radar of public health officials for many years now. Communities in Massachusetts have been actively planning for a pandemic and each year exercise their pandemic plans at their annual flu clinics. Many of you have been a part of this planning process. You have received training that should serve you well during this time.
Currently, we are asking you to be cautious and to be aware. We encourage you to reach out to your friends and family to get out the message of proper hand-washing, cough and cold etiquette. We also encourage you to review your home preparedness plans and to make sure that you have cold and flu medications as well as Advil and Tylenol available to you. It is important to start thinking about what other kinds of supplies you might need if you had the flu and you needed to shelter at home for a week, such as Gatorade, or other food or comfort items. If you should become ill, please contact your local health care provider, stay home from work or school and exercise social distancing and cough and cold etiquette.
Attached are links to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s website on Swine Flu and also to the CDC’s website. You will find fact sheets on the swine flu in many languages, as well as information on hand hygiene and what to do if you suspect that you have the flu.
The MRC is not needed for any response at this time. If we need to activate Medical Reserve Corps volunteers, you will hear directly from us via the Health and Homeland Alert Network (via phone) or by email.
Thank you so much for serving as an MRC member. You are a vital asset to us and to your community.
P.S. Please remember to let me know if your contact information (phone numbers and email addresses) changes. This is particularly important as the public health response to the H1N1 influenza (swine flu) virus unfolds.