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SCIS-HIS Avian Flu Notice #1 from SOS April 08, 2013

Dear SCIS-HIS Community,

 

As most are aware, several cases of the Avian Flu strain H7N9 have been reported in the Shanghai region.  The news media have given extraordinary coverage of this development due to its novel nature and the potential concern should an influenza strain mutate to human-to-human transmission.  While regular food-hygiene and health guidelines address the threat of H7N9 in its current form, the SCIS-HIS Avian Flu Contingency Plan calls for additional precautions when the virus is present in our region.  For example, while international and local medical experts currently state that consumption of poultry in the region is safe when prepared and handled properly, SCIS-HIS food service has removed poultry meat and eggs from menus pending further investigation.  Effectively, SCIS-HIS has raised precautionary levels to Stage 2B (please see attached contingency plan for avian flu threats).  As with the 2007 Avian Flu concerns, these are precautionary measures only given the size and number of people within our schools.  Each individual household will need to evaluate health considerations of consumption of poultry at homes and restaurants.

 

Each school year, SCIS-HIS reviews and modifies its plan for how to prevent, monitor, and address a range of potential health or security issues.  We feel this is an appropriate time to remind you of our current health guidelines and procedures as related to prevention of the spread of common illnesses such as seasonal and novel influenza (including the Avian Flu H7N9 and Swine Flu H1N1).

 

Our SCIS-HIS community is highly mobile – traveling all over the world for family and business reasons.  As such, many are aware that past human-to-human outbreaks of H1N1 and Hand, Foot, & Mouth Disease (HFMD)prompted Chinese authorities to put into place stringent screening and monitoring controls to prevent and contain the spread of any virus in its contagious stage.  In effect, these measures contained the spread of these outbreaks in China and minimized theimpact on our educational program.  However, viruses do not respect boundaries and with recent news of cases of bird-to-human transmission of Avian Flu H7N9, we will be carefully monitoring the situation as a school-community, staying in constant contact with a number of health authorities, the Shanghai and Hangzhou Education Commissions (SEC and HEC), as well as other international school administrators.

 

Routine Precautions at SCIS-HIS Schools

SCIS-HIS takes the following actions to limit the spread of infectious illnesses on our campuses:

  • Raising awareness of good health practices for all staff and students.
  • Ensuring extra disinfecting of premises on a routine basis.
  • Raising expectations for hand washing, especially before eating and after recess.
  • Increasing vigilance for flulike symptoms at school; expecting vigilance at home.

 

Specific Actions when Reports by Chinese Authorities of Bird-to-Human Influenza Infection within the Shanghai-Hangzhou Region (Stage 2B as per SCIS-HIS Avian Flu Contingency Plan)

  • The security staff will restrict entry to the campus of all people except students, staff, parents, SCIS-HIS drivers, preauthorized guests and essential suppliers.
  • All students and staff who experience flu-like symptoms should remain at home for a minimum period of 5 consecutive days. The administration may need to require doctor’s certificate of health prior to readmission to school.
  • Students, staff and parents will be asked not to visit livestock markets, not to handle live poultry, and not to handle dead or dying birds. They will be asked immediately to report any incidents regarding contact with livestock, poultry, and dead or dying birds. The school will report any incidents of dead or dying birds to the relevant authorities.
  • The school will evaluate and closely monitor hygiene procedures with catering and transportation service contractors.
  • The school may appoint an additional nurse or nursing assistant. The nurses will monitor the health of students, staff, parents, and SCIS-HIS drivers/bus monitors.
  • Upon advice from the relevant authorities, the school will consider cancelling all or select field trips, social events and sporting fixtures.
  • The school will stop all use of poultry products in school, including meat and eggs.
  • The school will disseminate to the SCIS-HIS community all information obtained from the government and medical authorities.

 

Flulike Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Sore Throat
  • Headache
  • Running Nose
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Unusual Coughing

 

As a precautionary measure, SCIS-HIS nursing staff and faculty will be monitoring for students with flulike symptoms.  Students showing these symptoms will be asked to be picked up to return home, and parents will be advised to seek medical advice and remain at home in voluntary isolation until the medical diagnosis is obtained or the illness has passed.  SCIS-HIS may request families show doctor’s permission to return to school in certain cases of illness.  SCIS-HIS also reserves the right to ask families to self-quarantine before returning to school if they have visitedareas of the world know to have high incidence of novel influenza strains.

 

When Flulike Symptoms Exist at Home

Keeping sick children at home is a normal precaution that we encourage under any circumstance as it is the most effective way to prevent the spread of flu or other infectious illness.  As the seasons change, children will become more susceptible to getting sick.  Parents are requested to keep their children at home if they are notfeeling well – regardless of the symptoms.

 

Basic Good Health Practices

We recommend the following everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause enterovirus (such as HFMD) or respiratory illnesses (such as seasonal flu or H1N1):

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze.  Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you get sick with influenza, seek medical advice, stay home from work or school, and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

 

Please be reminded that SCIS-HIS teachers and nurses have been requested towork routinely with our students in taking the basic health practices as outlined above.  In addition, we request that parents continue to work with their children at home in reminding them to follow these precautions.

 

For information on the current status of pandemic illnesses and possible travel advisories:

 

World Health Organization: http://www.who.int

(websites have various language options)

 

Center for Disease Control (USA):  http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avianflu/h7n9-virus.htm

 

We will continue to monitor this situation and take appropriate action as recommended by our nursing staff and local/national authorities.  You can be confident that SCIS-HIS schools have contingency plans in place to maintain the educational integrity of our institution and the safety and security of our children.  If you have any specific questions or health concerns in regard to illnesses and disease, we advise contacting a physician.

 

Sincerely,

 

Jeffry R. Stubbs

Superintendent of Schools

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