By Christine Whitmarsh, RN, BSN
There are none, except to Mexico of course, “ground zero” for the world’s latest disease outbreak. I used quotes around what I’ve deemed media terminology – entirely separate from public health terminology. While the media has done a decent job of letting World Health Organization (WHO) and other actual medical experts speak once in a while, swine flu is beginning to feel like more of a public information issue (aka media) versus a public health issue.
Nurses, especially travel nurses, are well-versed and well trained in handling public health issues such as disease outbreaks, epidemics, pandemics, mass casualty and all the other things that make news anchors salivate. One of the most important nursing roles during times of borderline mass panic like these is community education. What better time than this to reinforce the importance of basic preventative techniques such as proper hand washing and covering your mouth and nose while you sneeze? Let’s face it – the media has created a captive audience of concerned patients.
Here is the latest on the swine flu from the WHO, particularly for travel nurses preparing for upcoming assignments.
-Despite the recent miscommunicated travel warning by Vice President Biden, the official WHO responses is that there is “no rationale for travel restrictions” related to the H1N1 virus outbreak.
-The current WHO goal is to “minimize the impact of the virus through the rapid identification of cases and providing patients with appropriate medical care”. Travel nurse jobs can aid flu victims.
-Key Patient Teaching Points: Tell your patients to avoid close contact with people who appear to be symptomatic (fever, cough, flu symptoms); Separate ill people (including yourself).
Current States with Cases of H1N1 Virus: California (14), Nevada (1), Arizona (1), Texas (26) (1 fatality), Kansas (2), Indiana (1), Michigan (1), Ohio (1), South Carolina (10), New York (50), Massachusetts (2), Missouri (1)
Breaking News: The National Guard is now apparently protecting the Tamiflu supply. Talk about a med lock-up.
Christine Whitmarsh is a Registered Nurse with a BSN from the University of Rhode Island. She is a freelance health journalist and medical writer and a contributor to Travel Nurse Source and Allied Travel Careers.