Bangor Hospitals Stand Ready to Respond to H1N1 Influenza

05/01/2009

(Bangor, Maine)—With so much attention focused on the current outbreak of H1N1 influenza, it’s understandable why people are concerned or confused. We all want to do whatever we can to keep our families healthy. The good news is that there is quite a lot we can do to control our risk. 

First, it’s important to understand the scope of the situation. To date, information from the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta suggests this new H1N1 virus causes illness that is no more severe than that caused by seasonal influenza viruses. The few cases we’ve seen in Maine thus far have had fairly mild symptoms, and are being comfortably cared for at home.

The difference with this H1N1 is that it is a new flu strain, so there is no vaccine developed, and humans have no immunity. Consequently, we may see more cases, possibly among a younger and healthier population than with a normal seasonal flu strain. So, we revert to the tried and true prevention techniques we use all year round to prevent us from getting sick:
  • frequent hand washing (with soap and warm water or hand sanitizer),
  • covering coughs or sneezes with a tissue or sleeve,
  • keeping away from people who are sick,
  • staying home if you become sick, and
  • taking normal steps to keep yourself healthy (good nutrition, physical activity, etc.).
If you, or a family member, do become sick with a fever, body aches, or respiratory symptoms such as sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, cough, and sometimes nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, contact your primary care provider for advice. There is no need for hospitalization in the vast majority of cases. If a person becomes dehydrated, has trouble breathing, has blue lips or fingertips, or becomes disoriented further care from a medical facility such as a hospital emergency department may be required. And, as with any illness, if you are sick or have been in close contact with someone who is sick we ask that you refrain from visiting friends or family in the hospital. Patients are potentially more susceptible to infection, therefore for their safety; we should avoid exposing them to other unnecessary illness.

The hospitals of the region are monitoring the current situation carefully and coordinating their response region-wide as the situation develops. We have detailed individual and regional response plans in place, and are implementing those plans in stages, as appropriate. We are prepared to care for any patients who require hospitalization.

Websites at both hospitals have more information on H1N1 influenza:
www.emmc.org
www.stjoeshealing.org