NEWS SCAN: Infection control lapses in trainees, flu strains New Zealand hospital, vaccine-narcolepsy link suspected

Aug 18, 2010

Study finds infection control gaps among medical students, residents
A survey of medical students and residents at an urban hospital during the H1N1 influenza pandemic suggests that although they took seriously the risk of becoming infected, they didn't always comply with infection control precautions, researchers from George Washington University report in the September issue of Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses. They polled the doctors in training with an anonymous online survey that produced 194 responses from medical students and 67 from residents. The survey was conducted between Nov 3 and Dec 11, 2009. About half of each group perceived that they had a high risk of becoming infected with the virus at school or work. The pandemic vaccination rate was 43% for medical students and 66% for residents. Most reported that they increased their use of nonpharmaceutical measures for reducing spread of the virus. However, 9% of medical students and 61% of residents said they went to school or work when they had flu-like symptoms. The authors concluded that immunization rates could be higher in these two groups and that some aren't observing infection control precautions. They suggest that infection control guidelines should be included in medical education and resident training.
Sep Influenza Other Respi Viruses abstract

Flu activity strains New Zealand hospital
A surge in people presenting with flu-like illness at a New Zealand hospital's emergency department on Aug 16 almost prompted the facility to trigger its crisis plan, the Bay of Plenty Times reported today. Bay of Plenty is on the northern coast of New Zealand's North Island. An official with the Bay of Plenty District Health Board told the Times that the emergency department saw 182 patients during a 24-hour period that started at 8 am on Aug 16. He said 66 of the patients were admitted to the hospital. Crisis measures would have included, for example, discharging patients early and canceling elective surgeries. New Zealand is among the countries currently reporting high levels of pandemic H1N1 activity. Elsewhere in the country, a primary school in Christchurch, the largest city on New Zealand's South Island, closed after one of its students was diagnosed with the H1N1 virus. The school's janitors are disinfecting surfaces at the school, including tables, chairs, and computers.
Aug 18 Bay of Plenty Times story
Aug 18 Radio Australia News report

Finland checks suspected link between narcolepsy and pandemic vaccine
Experts in Finland are meeting today to explore a suspected link between narcolepsy and the pandemic H1N1 vaccine, according to a report from YLE, Finland's national broadcasting system. The suspicion of a link arose when a Finnish pediatric neurologist noted a slight increase in narcolepsy cases this year. The report said a similar pattern has been noted in Sweden. Tehri Kilpi, director of the National Institute for Health and Welfare's vaccine department, told YLE that she doubted the existence of a connection but said the question should be examined.
Aug 18 YLE story

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