Bill Martin

Update & Recommendations:  Swine Flu Outbreak (April 30, 2009)*


Swine Flu Update

As you may already know, human cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus
infection have been identified in several states and in other countries, primarily
Mexico.  So far in the U.S., 109  cases have been identified, and one  death has been reported.  In Mexico, according to current data from the
WHO (World Health Organization), 26 laboratory-confirmed cases have been
reported with 7 deaths.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), this
influenza virus had previously been transmitted among swine, with no
human-to-human transmission.  However,
the virus has mutated, and human-to-human transmission of the virus is now
occurring and appears to be spreading, representing the threat of a pandemic. In
fact, the WHO  has upgraded the threat to
a phase 5 level, which is a “strong signal that a pandemic is imminent and that
the time to finalize the organization, communication, and implementation of the
planned mitigation measures is short.”  With
this in mind, it becomes prudent for churches and communities to take
precautionary measures to protect people and take advantage
of a narrow window of opportunity for intervention, hence the following


General Recommendations

If you’re sick
or have symptoms that resemble the flu, stay home!
  Anyone who develops fever with either cough
or sore throat should be strongly encouraged to stay at home for seven days
after the onset of illness or at least 24 hours after symptoms subside,
whichever is longer. Persons who experience these symptoms and wish to seek
medical care should contact their health care providers to report illness before
seeking care at a clinic, physician’s office, or hospital. However, anyone who
has difficult breathing or shortness of breath or who is believed to be
seriously ill should seek immediate medical attention.


When possible,
avoid contact with crowds
not only to protect yourself from becoming ill,
but also to protect others if you’re unknowingly incubating the virus.  This is especially important if your immune
system is compromised.


 Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue if you’re
coughing or sneezing.


(4)    Wash your hands often!  Use either soap or one of the readily
available hand sanitizers to help protect you from viruses and other microbes.  (Hand sanitizers are inexpensive and readily
available in drugstores or supermarkets.) 
Hand washing is the single most effective way of preventing the spread
of not only the flu virus, but also other infectious agents.


Avoid touching
your eyes, nose, or mouth.
are readily spread when one touches something that’s contaminated and then
touches one’s eyes, nose, or mouth.


Practice good
health habits.
  Get plenty of sleep,
get exercise, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious
food.  In other words, good health habits
can build up your resistance to germs.


Recommendations/considerations for

            Have hand sanitizers
readily available (credence table, narthex, parish halls, etc.).

If you’re taking communion to someone in the
hospital, care facility, etc., be sure to use these sanitizers.

Consider receiving communion in one kind only (that
is, receiving only the host), instead of 
drinking directly from the chalice.

            Post signs in restrooms and
other public areas reminding people to practice good hygiene.

            Have qualified people
available for question-and-answer sessions.

For the time being, refrain from shaking hands
during the Peace because microbes are most easily passed from person to person
by touching.


Diocesan Emergency Preparedness Committee



*Adapted from CDC guidelines (www.cdc.gov/swineflu/).

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...


  1. Thanks for the info.. a nicely balanced writeup of realism, yet not creating excess panic.

  2. Episcopal Relief and Development has an excellent page with mutliple links on this topic, including some materials developed by our Canadian siblings for the SARS epidemic. There are also materials available from ELCA and from other Episcopal sources.

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