CDC Updates 2009 H1N1 Guidance

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is releasing updated interim guidance on infection control measures to prevent transmission of 2009 H1N1 influenza in health care facilities. This guidance applies to the special circumstances of the current 2009 H1N1 pandemic and expands on earlier guidance.

Revisions from earlier guidance include: criteria for identification of suspected influenza patients; recommended time away from work for health care personnel; changes to isolation precautions based on tasks and anticipated exposures; expansion of information on the hierarchy of controls which ranks preventive interventions in the following order of preference: elimination of exposures, engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment; and changes to guidance on use of respiratory protection.

Why Update This Guidance Now?

“When the interim infection control guidance for 2009 H1N1 was posted, substantial uncertainties existed regarding the severity of disease and health impact of the novel H1N1 influenza strain, a high proportion of the population was susceptible to the new virus, and the vaccine was not available,” the CDC said. “Circumstances have changed significantly since then. First, a safe and effective vaccine has become widely available. Second, we now have information about the number of cases of disease, hospitalizations, and deaths caused by 2009 H1N1, which can be compared to historical seasonal influenza data.” The current circumstances, the CDC said, justify an update of the recommendations.

In updating this particular guidance, the CDC also will consolidate recommendations for prevention of seasonal flu in health care facilities into a comprehensive, easily accessible document.

To Whom Does This New Guidance Apply?

This guidance applies to health care personnel working in the following settings:  acute care hospitals, nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, physician’s offices, urgent care centers, outpatient clinics, and home healthcare agencies.  It also includes those working in clinical settings within non-healthcare institutions, such as school nurses or personnel staffing clinics in correctional facilities.

The updated interim guidance still needs to be reviewed by federal government who are experts in the field of medicine. Final guidance will be published in the Federal Register and the CDC will post a notice on its website.


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