Maine CDC Press Release

June 24, 2009

Maine CDC Offers Important H1N1 Swine flu Update

AUGUSTA

H1N1, or swine flu, continues to spread throughout the world and Maine is no exception.

Dr. Dora Anne Mills, Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, cautions Mainers about being complacent about this virus.

"Even though there are several dozen cases of H1N1 confirmed by testing in Maine, these numbers are only an indicator of community transmission of the infection, since most people sick with the virus do not need to be tested," said Dr. Mills. "Our tracking shows a similar pattern to what is being seen in other states. Young adults and youth are being disproportionately affected and outbreaks are occurring where young people are closely congregated. Given the results we have seen from the limited testing done to date, we should work from the assumption that this disease is likely or soon will be present in all of our communities"

Maine CDC's prevention and containment efforts are currently focused on pregnant women, who are at higher risk for complications from H1N1, summer gatherings, day and residential camps, homeless and domestic violence shelters, child care facilities, summer school programs, correctional facilities, travelers' health, cruise boats, businesses, employers and people taking care of those sick with H1N1 in their homes.

"It is especially important for those associated with any gathering of people, like work, reunions, meetings and youth camps, to make sure that they have the proper tools and information available to assure that respiratory etiquette is being practiced," said. Dr. Mills. "Having enough soap and water, hand sanitizer, tissues and display posters to serve as reminders is key to containing the spread of this virus."

"It is also important in any setting where people routinely gather to make sure those who are ill stay home; that screening for symptoms continues and that those who are symptomatic or ill remain isolated while receiving treatment.

The Maine CDC offers these reminders:

  • Maintain respiratory etiquette:
    Cover coughs and sneezes with sleeves or a tissue. Sneezes can travel 100 miles per hour and the wet spray can radiate six feet. Droplets from an infected person can get into the air from sneezing, coughing or simply talking. They can be inhaled and infect people nearby.
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water or hand sanitizer:
    This is especially important after you cough, sneeze or wipe your nose; use the bathroom; have had contact with a sick person; touch handrails, doorknobs or other things handled by many people; before eating; and after handling garbage.
    Influenza germs can live for hours on surfaces like hands, doorknobs and other commonly touched surfaces, and can easily spread when a person touches these contaminated items then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth since germs spread this way.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Stay home if you are ill:
    If you are sick with an influenza-like illness (fever and other symptoms including a sore throat or cough), stay home for 7 days after your symptoms begin or until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer. This is to keep you from infecting others and spreading the virus.
  • Stay informed since this event and guidance are changing.
  • Make preparations:
    If you do not have a pandemic influenza plan, then use a preparation check list for your setting or situation, found at: http://www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/checklists.html.

Maine CDC is also working with public health partners on fall vaccination campaigns. In partnership with the Department of Education, Maine CDC is offering free seasonal influenza vaccine to children through interested local schools this fall.

Maine CDC remains in close contact with U.S. CDC as it plans for possible large scale immunizations with H1N1 vaccine once it is developed. The vaccine may be available in the fall.

"We believe that all of us working together can mitigate the effects of H1N1 in Maine and especially protect those who are at high risk for complication," said Dr. Mills.

For More Information:
Maine CDC H1N1: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/boh/swine-flu-2009.shtml Maine CDC Public Information Line: 1-888-257-0990 weekdays from 9am to 5p

Other Resources:

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH, Director
Maine Center for Disease Control (207-287-3270)