It is very important that healthcare workers, who are treating individuals that may potentially have the avian flu, follow certain guidelines and take proper safety precautions.
All patients who come to a health-care setting and have a fever and or respiratory symptoms should be handled according to the CDC' suggestions for respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette. These individuals should also be asked about their recent travel history
It has not yet been determined that avian flu can be spread from one person to another. However, because of the possible risks of contamination from one person to another, isolation precautions matching those that are suggested for SARS should be put into practice for all hospitalized patients diagnosed with or under assessment for influenza A.
There are standard precautions that should be met at all times. Very careful attention should be paid to hand hygiene. This should be implemented both before and after a healthcare worker comes into contact with the patient.
Contact precautions need to be taken as well. Gloves should be worn always when touching a potentially infected individual.
Eye protection is vital and should be worn whenever a healthcare worker is going to be within three feet of the patient.
Because the avian flu can be transmitted through the air, airborne precautions need to be practiced. The patient should be placed in an airborne isolation room. For example, one where monitored negative air pressure in relation to the surrounding areas with 6 to 12 air changes per hour.
The CDC has suggested that, the minimum necessity is a not reusable particulate respirator should be used in unity with 29 CFR 1910.134 for respiratory protection programs. It is necessary for workers to be fit tested for the model and size respirator that they wear. These workers must also be trained to fit-check for face piece to face seal, when entering the room of a patient.
N-95 (or higher) respirators should be worn during any medical activities that pose a high risk of causing transferable respiratory aerosols, for which respirators (not surgical masks) provide the most suitable protection for health care personnel. Use of N-95 respirators is also practical for health care works when conducting activities with patients such as examinations, bathing, and feeding. Support staff should also follow these precautions even if they are not in direct contact with infected patients. If N-95 or other types of respirators are not accessible, surgical masks can be beneficial in protecting healthcare workers from large-droplet exposure. These masks should be worn for all health care activities concerning patients with established or suspected pandemic influenza. Even with all of these precautions, the dealing with patients who are thought to have, or known to have avian flu should be limited. As few healthcare workers as possible should come into contact with these patients to limit the number of people being potentially exposed.
If the transport or movement of a patient becomes essential, it must be made certain that the patient wears a surgical mask. If a mask cannot be endured, the most sensible measures to contain respiratory secretions must be applied.
Individuals wanting supplementary information about these and other health-care isolation precautions can see the CDC's Guidelines for Isolation Precautions available in Hospitals. These safety measures should be carried out for 14 days after the commencement of symptoms and go on until a different diagnosis is found or until a diagnostic test result specifies that the patient is not infected with influenza. Individuals treated as outpatients or hospitalized patients released before 14 days should be isolated in a home setting on the basis of guidelines outlined for the home isolation of SARS patients.
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