The following message has been provided by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Influenza activity in Maine is widespread with laboratory confirmed influenza reported in all counties. Influenza A/H3, and influenza B have been confirmed in Maine indicating both strains are circulating. Maine CDC has followed up on 52 outbreaks of influenza as of Thursday January 25, 2018. Influenza vaccination is still strongly encouraged and is widely available, especially to protect those persons at risk of severe disease. The vaccine appears to be a good match to three strains (A/H1, B/Yamagata, B/Victoria) this year, and it is not too late to get vaccinated. Nationally, the majority of the circulating A/H3 strains are not a good match to the vaccine. Maine specific data is not available at this time, but it is assumed to be similar to the national picture. Vaccination is still recommended as it will protect against the other three strains, and it may offer cross protection and decrease the severity of illness.
What can Maine schools do to prevent and control influenza?
- Report outbreaks: Report outbreaks of any illness, defined as student absenteeism rates >15%, immediately to Maine CDC. Submit > 15% absenteeism reports through the Department of Education NEO Dashboard Absenteeism Reporting application (for more information, see http://maine.gov/education/sh/contents/AbsenteeReportingNEOSHM.3.2017.pdf). Field epidemiologists are available to provide consultation on infection control. Reports may also be called to 1-800-821-5821.
- Promote health among students and staff: Encourage students, parents, teachers and staff to be aware of their health and to identify early if they have influenza-like illness (defined as fever of 100 degrees or greater, plus sore throat and/or cough). Promote four steps to prevent flu: wash hands, cover cough, stay home if sick, and get vaccinated. Individuals should stay home until 24 hours after fever resolves without the use of fever reducing medications.
- Increase environmental cleaning: Frequently clean high touch surfaces, like door knobs, desks, and light switches – this helps break down the presence of the virus in the environment.
- Review school policy on sickness and health: Review with staff your school policy on illness among students and staff. Invite the school nurse or physician to speak at a staff meeting or school board meeting to promote prevention of influenza. Consider steps the school will take in the event of continued elevated absenteeism.
Where can I find more information?