Getting back to basics

Schoolchildren play a critical role in community influenza transmission, which is why everyone is getting so nervous as kids head back to school with the novel H1N1 circulating…..

So I really enjoyed this article, recently published online in ICHE. The authors describe implementing a simple “bundle” of infection control measures at a 240-child kindergarten in central Thailand: hand hygiene and cough etiquette education of students, parents and teachers; an annual influenza vaccination day; and enforced absenteeism for sick children. Observed hand hygiene and cough etiquette adherence increased from 14% during the preintervention year to >60% during the two postintervention years, and influenza vaccine acceptance increased from 35% to 75%. A monthly newsletter was used to feedback data on rates of hand hygiene and cough etiquette, as well as numbers of the monitored infections.

Read the paper for yourself—but the bottom line is that the intervention led to dramatic reductions in influenza-like illness, diarrheal disease, and hand-foot-mouth disease.

So as important as it is to review pandemic plans, assess stocks of oseltamivir and personal protective equipment, etc., etc., it is the simple measures that will control novel H1N1.

Wash your hands! Cover your cough! Get your flu shot (once it is available)! Stay home when you’re sick!


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