H1N1 Virus Infections Among Healthcare Personnel

The June 19, 2009 issue of MMWR Weekly reported on H1N1 virus infections among healthcare personnel. As of May 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had received 48 reports of confirmed or probable infections with novel influenza A (H1N1) virus; of these, 26 reports included detailed case reports with information regarding risk factors that might have led to infection. Although the CDC provided interim recommendations to reduce the risk for transmission in healthcare settings soon after identification of novel influenza A (H1N1) virus infections in the United States in mid-April, it was discovered that many healthcare professionals were not observing these guidelines in practice. These CDC recommendations included the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), management of healthcare personnel (HCP) after unprotected exposures, and instruction of ill HCP not to report to work.

To better understand the risk for acquiring infection with the virus among HCP and the impact of infection-control recommendations, CDC solicited reports of infected HCP from state health departments. Of the 26 cases, 13 (50 percent) HCP were deemed to have acquired infection in a healthcare setting, including one instance of probable HCP to HCP transmission and 12 instances of probable or possible patient to HCP transmission. Eleven HCP had probable or possible acquisition in the community, and two had no reported exposures in either healthcare or community settings. Among 11 HCP with probable or possible patient to HCP acquisition and available information on PPE use, only three reported always using either a surgical mask or an N95 respirator. These findings suggest that transmission of novel influenza A (H1N1) virus to HCP is occurring in healthcare and community settings and that additional messages aimed at reinforcing current infection-control recommendations are needed.

To read the rest of the MMWR Weekly report, CLICK HERE.