Nursing Homes Not Prepared To Pandemic Flu

Armen Hareyan's picture
Advertisement

Most nursing homes are not properly prepared and equipped to fight pandemic flu, finds the new study of nursing homes and flu preparedness.

The study appears in Journal of the American Medical Association and points that in case of influenza pandemic the US nursing homes will fail to fight the infection. Researchers sent questionnaires to all 656 state health departments to conduct the study, but only 69% of all the questionnaires were properly responded.

Study examined 400 nursing homes and found that only 23% of nursing homes have a particularly developed pandemic influenza plan. Another 25% have the plan integrated into disaster response plan, which is still not good enough. The rest of nursing homes (52%) did not have any plans at all.

Advertisement

Half of nursing homes were found to have stored some necessary equipment, such as gloves and hygiene products. Only 6% of nursing homes conducted any exercises to prepare stuff for pandemic influenza.

The nursing home flu preparedness situation was the best in Michigan and Nebraska nursing homes: About 77% had a person on staff responsible for pandemic influenza cases, 84% of homes have access to laboratories to detect and threat during a pandemic, 71% provide with mental health services for those who suffer a disaster.

Nursing homes are considered to be very important health units because in emergency situations it may be impossible for a patients to get to a hospital. In cases of pandemic influenza hospitals can be overcrowded and nursing homes need to have the ability to provide the same services the hospitals do. In such cases, if nursing homes fail to do the job properly, it will be a huge failure of overall health system and will cause health complications to disease sufferers.

"Nursing homes may not be equipped to handle an influx of influenza as well as non-influenza patients. They may also be unwilling to accept overflow patients, if it means displacing their current residents," says senior author Lona Mody, M.D., M.Sc, assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Health System and research scientist, Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center at the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System. "Nursing homes run a high occupancy rate, making it logistically difficult to accept a lot of patients if there is a time crunch."

Researchers urge the nursing homes to be prepared to emergency, particularly, they need to have a pandemic influenza plan, work with nearby hospitals and health units to make sure that every single patient will be treated on time. Also researchers say nursing homes in case of overcrowded units need to have staff trained and educated against pandemic fight.

Share this content.

If you liked this article and think it may help your friends, consider sharing or tweeting it to your followers.
Advertisement

Comments

CUT THE CHAIN OF INFECTIONS ! Spread of avian flu by drinking water: Proved awareness to ecology and transmission is necessary to understand the spread of avian flu. For this it is insufficient exclusive to test samples from wild birds, poultry and humans for avian flu viruses. Samples from the known abiotic vehicles as water also have to be analysed. Proving viruses in water is difficult because of dilution. If you find no viruses you can not be sure that there are not any. On the other hand in water viruses remain viable for a long time. Water has to be tested for influenza viruses by cell culture and in particular by the more sensitive molecular biology method PCR. Transmission of avian flu by direct contact to infected poultry is an unproved assumption from the WHO. There is no evidence that influenza primarily is transmitted by saliva droplets: “Transmission of influenza A in human beings” http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473309907700294/abstract?iseop=true. There are clear links between the cold, rainy seasons as well as floods and the spread of influenza. There are clear links between avian flu and water, e.g. in Egypt to the Nile delta or in Indonesia to residential districts of less prosperous humans with backyard flocks of birds and without a central water supply as in Vietnam: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol12no12/06-0829.htm. See also the WHO web side: http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/emerging/h5n1background.pdf. That is just why abiotic vehicles as water have to be analysed. The direct biotic transmission from birds, poultry or humans to humans can not depend on the cold, rainy seasons or floods. Water is a very efficient abiotic vehicle for the spread of viruses - in particular of fecal as well as by mouth, nose and eyes excreted viruses. Infected humans, mammals, birds and poultry can contaminate drinking water everywhere. All humans have very intensive contact to drinking water. Spread of avian flu by drinking water can explain small clusters in households too. Avian flu infections may increase in consequence to increase of virus circulation. Human to human and contact transmission of influenza occur - but are overvalued immense. In the course of influenza epidemics in Germany, recognized clusters are rare, accounting for just 9 percent of cases e.g. in the 2005 season. In temperate climates the lethal H5N1 virus will be transferred to humans via cold drinking water, as with the birds in February and March 2006, strong seasonal at the time when (drinking) water has its temperature minimum. The performance to eliminate viruses from the drinking water processing plants regularly does not meet the requirements of the WHO and the USA/USEPA. Conventional disinfection procedures are poor, because microorganisms in the water are not in suspension, but embedded in particles. Even ground water used for drinking water is not free from viruses. In temperate regions influenza epidemics recur with marked seasonality around the end of winter, in the northern as well as in the southern hemisphere. Although seasonality is one of the most familiar features of influenza, it is also one of the least understood. Indoor crowding during cold weather, seasonal fluctuations in host immune responses, and environmental factors, including relative humidity, temperature, and UV radiation have all been suggested to account for this phenomenon, but none of these hypotheses has been tested directly. Influenza causes significant morbidity in tropical regions; however, in contrast to the situation in temperate zones, influenza in the tropics is not strongly associated with a certain season. In the tropics, flood-related influenza is typical after extreme weather. The virulence of influenza viruses depends on temperature and time. Especially in cases of local water supplies with “young” and fresh influenza-contaminated water from low local wells, cisterns, tanks, rain barrels, ponds, rivers or rice paddies, this pathway can explain H5N1 infections. At 24°C, for example, in the tropics the virulence of influenza viruses in water exists for 2 days. In temperate climates with “older” water from central water supplies, the temperature of the water is decisive for the virulence of viruses. At 7°C the virulence of influenza viruses in water extends to 14 days. Ducks and rice (paddies = flooded by water) are major factors in outbreaks of avian flu, claims a UN agency: Ducks and rice fields may be a critical factor in spreading H5N1. Ducks, rice (fields, paddies = flooded by water; farmers at work drink the water from rice paddies) and people – not chickens – have emerged as the most significant factors in the spread of avian influenza in Thailand and Vietnam, according to a study carried out by a group of experts from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and associated research centres. See http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=26096&Cr=&Cr1 The study “Mapping H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza risk in Southeast Asia: ducks, rice and people” also concludes that these factors are probably behind persistent outbreaks in other countries such as Cambodia and Laos. This study examined a series of waves of H5N1, a highly pathogenic avian influenza, in Thailand and Vietnam between early 2004 and late 2005. Through the use of satellite mapping, researchers looked at several different factors, including the numbers of ducks, geese and chickens, human population size, rice cultivation and geography, and found a strong link between duck grazing patterns and rice cropping intensity. In Thailand, for example, the proportion of young ducks in flocks was found to peak in September-October; these rapidly growing young ducks can therefore benefit from the peak of the rice harvest in November-December, at the beginning of the cold: Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos – as opposed to Indonesia – are located in the northern hemisphere. These peaks in the congregation of ducks indicate periods in which there is an increase in the chances for virus release and exposure, and rice paddies often become a temporary habitat for wild bird species. In addition, with virus persistence becoming increasingly confined to areas with intensive rice-duck agriculture in eastern and south-eastern Asia, the evolution of the H5N1 virus may become easier to predict. Dipl.-Ing. Wilfried Soddemann - Epidemiologist - Free Science Journalist [email protected] http://www.dugi-ev.de/information.html