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Pandemic Infections Control and Prevention

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Introduction

Since the outbreak of SARS in 2003, the Federal government and other global interest groups like the World Health Organization have been giving specific focus to the concept of pandemic planning. Today, business management also pays particular attention to this concept. Pandemic preparation is a recorded technique planned as part of a widespread outbreak of a deadly infectious disease. This concept has a broader scope in workplaces, communities, and in vulnerable areas nationwide. The World Health Organization declared the 2009-H1N1or swine flu in 2009 (CDC, 2010). This influenza A (H1N1) virus was the most significant cause of human flu in 2009. As Patel, Panchal, Chavda, Modiya, Marvaniya, Modi, and Sen (2010) note, some strains of H1N1 are endemic in humans, resulting in a small percent of all flu-like illness and a small percent of all seasonal flu. Other strains are endemic in pigs and birds. This paper will discuss effective pandemic planning for managing an outbreak of the H1N1 virus on a cruise ship with 1970 passengers and 734 crew on board. 

Pandemic Infections Control and Prevention

Infection Prevention and Control 

The UK’s National Infection Prevention and Control Framework describes extensive measures to combat the outbreak of future infectious diseases. This framework strongly recommends the active involvement of individuals, communities, healthcare authorities, national and local governments, and other caregivers to address effective infection prevention and control to minimize the Chance of life threatening infectious diseases (NHS Professional Policy on Infection Prevention, 2010). There are a wide variety of national policy recommendations, such as The Health and Social Care Act (2008), Critical Measures for Healthy, Clean Care (2007), National Patient Safety Agency Revised Cleaning Manual (2009), and Winning Ways- Working together to reduce HCAI in England (2003) now available for the prevention of healthcare-associated infection and infectious diseases (As cited in NHS South East Essex and NHS South West Essex, NHS, Infection Prevention & Control Team, 2011). These national policy guidelines suggest that effective prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections (HCAI) should be practiced in everyday life and continuously applied by everyone. As per the National Infection Prevention and Control Manual of Health Protection Scotland (2012), communities need to have an awareness of the possibilities concerning an outbreak of pandemic diseases. This knowledge is very important to avoid situations that lead to diseases such as swine flu, and to efficiently manage disease conditions (NDMA, 2009).  The framework indicates explicitly that thoughtful staff engagement is paramount in the prevention and control of infectious diseases. Practices of prevention and control must be implemented from the bottom up (local areas or regions) and extended to the national level. Under the NHS Strategy for Prevention and Control of Infections (n.d.), Director of Infection Prevention and Control, Infection Prevention and Control Teams, general practitioners, nursing staff, domestic staff, all other staff groups, and all key healthcare institutions in the country are involved in the prevention of HCAI.       

Pandemic Planning Requirements 

The given case scenario is about the management of an outbreak of the H1N1 virus on a cruise ship. A cruise ship would typically bring passengers from various territories, often from different countries. In addition, people cannot always stay away from the affected people while they are on a ship. Hence, the likelihood of spreading the disease will be high. In this situation, high awareness of the H1N1 flu is necessary to effectively prevent the spread of this disease. Hence, the ship’s medical team must inform the passengers and crew about the potential causes that would lead to the spread of this infectious virus. The H1N1virus is mainly spread through coughing and sneezing by people with H1N1 influenza. As cited in Jenkins (Ed. 2010, p. 58), sometimes, this infectious disease may spread through touching surfaces or objects containing H1N1 viruses and then bringing hands in contact with mouth or nose. Hence, people in the ship must be instructed to avoid close interactions with one another. Referring to the infection prevention and control mechanism suggested by the NHS Kirklees (n. d.), the crew on the board, particularly those directly interacting with passengers and their co-workers, has a crucial role to play in hindering the spread of the disease. In the words of Mak and Lai (2012), those people should cover their mouths with a tissue when they cough or sneeze. They must also wash their hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based hand gel. Also, there are some universal precautions that have to be taken by the entire people on the ship. According to Whitney (2009), people must avoid touching their eyes, nose, mouth, and close contact with affected individuals. If an individual is affected with flu-like illnesses, it is recommendable to let him/her stay in a closed room for at least 24 hours until he/she is recovered from the disease. Preventive vaccination for swine flu pandemic is a better strategy to limit the dreadful consequences of this infectious disease. Also, the ship’sship’s medical team must be prepared to face emergencies and give antiviral drugs to persons showing swine flu symptoms. To prevent the spread of this disease successfully, physicians and other medical staff should not let anyone closely interact with affected individuals. Timely response to the flu symptoms is inevitable to improve the recovery period.       

Phases of Changes in Approaches 

In swine flu cases reported on a cruise ship, the medical team should immediately identify the affected individuals and let them be in a separate room. Under any circumstances (except emergency), the affected individuals should not be allowed to mingle with others. According to the phases of pandemic alert described by the WHO (2012), human to human transmission of the H1N1 virus would occur under limited circumstances (for instance, interaction between an affected individual and an unprotected caregiver) during the initial phases of the swine flu. Under this phase, the ship’sship’s medical team has to spread the disease awareness among the passengers and the crew on board. In the next phase, the flu’sflu’s human to human transmission will occur faster; hence, the possibility of a disease spreading will be higher at this phase. Therefore, it is better to take preventive measures such as vaccination to prevent the spread of the disease. In the next stage, the virus transmission will occur at an even faster rate. Hence, extensive community-based programs are needed to curb the outbreak of the swine flu. To be more specific, the medical team and other crew members must play a key role in enhancing the destruction of the viruses.

Lessons From Past Exposures 

Several lessons can be learned from past exposures or pandemics. The 2009 swine flu pandemic indicates that the delivery of H1N1 vaccination is an effective strategy to protect most vulnerable communities and groups from the life-threatening risks of H1N1 (EMEA, ECDC & HMA, 2009). The delivery of seasonal flu vaccine to healthcare workers is also found to be a better preventive action. As specified in Registered Nurses Journal (2009), frontline staff and social care staff have a crucial role to play in preventing the spread of this infectious disease successfully. H1N1 awareness programs, including vaccination campaigns, are essential to enlighten people about the dreadful impacts of this disease and hence make them aware of the need to take potential precautionary measures on time. According to a study conducted on the recent H1N1 pandemic, factors of a successful awareness campaign are “flexible and accessible delivery approaches, visible leadership, effective communications strategy, and attention to the fundamentals of a comprehensive strategy with consistent governance structures and strong project management support “(Mcllwain, 2010). Thoughtful and timely governmental actions are inevitable to reduce the adverse impacts of this pandemic. Undoubtedly, the active involvement of community leaders, social workers, and other interest groups is vital to successfully preventing the spread of this infectious disease. 

Future Directions for Infection Prevention 

To prevent the widespread outbreak of H1N1 disease in the future, individuals and communities must stay aware of the potential causes and symptoms of the swine flu. Primarily, individuals should report to healthcare authorities concerned as soon as they suspect the presence of the H1N1 virus in their bodies. Such an immediate response would assist the individuals in getting fast recovery. People must also practice good hygiene because H1N1 infections may spread through coughing and sneezing (H1N1 flu information, n. d.). It is better not to share utensils or drinks because such activities would promote the spread of this disease. Community-based programs must be developed to assess the level of disease preparedness of various communities and groups periodically. Finally, it is advisable to use technological advancements to maintain adequate business interactions as it reduces direct human interactions. 

Conclusion 

From the above discussion, it is clear that H1N1 is a pandemic disease that can have life-threatening effects on affected people. To manage the outbreak of swine flu on the cruise ship, the ship’sship’s medical team and the other crew members must be vigilant. They must timely identify the affected individuals and keep those persons away from unaffected people. Also, awareness programs and vaccination would be useful to minimize the risk of this flu. Past H1N1 exposure experiences indicate that effective leadership and community-based programs can reduce swine flu complications to a great extent. Better hygiene practices and timely healthcare assistance can reduce the threat of this infectious disease in the future. 

References;
  • CDC. (2010). 2009 H1N1 Flu (“Swine Flu”) and You. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/qa.htm
  • EMEA, ECDC & HMA. (2009). European Strategy for Influenza A/H1N1 Vaccine Benefit-Risk Monitoring. Retrieved from http://www.emea.europa.eu/docs/en_GB/document_library/Report/2010/01/WC500044933.pdf
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  • NHS Professionals Infection Control Policy. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.nhsprofessionals.nhs.uk/download/comms/POL6NHSPInfectionControlPolicyv2.pdf
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  •  NDMA. (2009). Prevention and Management of Influenza A (H1N1). Govt. of India. Retrieved from http://india.gov.in/allimpfrms/alldocs/12417.pdf
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