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Small Pox Awareness

Whether it is the war on terror or an environmental outbreak, workers with health care responsibilities must be prepared for these new types of emergencies. Response to these new emergencies must become as quick and effective and as reliable as everyday more common responses. Because these viral agents have been eradicated the procedures for handling an outbreak is no longer a part of normal healthcare training. The key areas to create in your healthcare training regular regimen are; awareness of the presentation of this disease, and the correct procedures for your responders to initiate once identification is suspected.

The CDC (Center for Disease Control) has specific templates for first responders to follow that are regularly updated. Keeping current with training information is the BEST way to monitor your training materials and facts to safeguard your responders and patients. Be sure you are always using the most recent guidelines from this organization or those recommended by the CDC for further updated information.

Operationally, the key concept should be “confinement”. Think isolation of suspected small pox cases to limit the potential area of contamination.

Small pox is caused by the variola virus. While the incubation period within a patient is 7-17 days, during this phase it is not infectious. As symptoms develop before visual signs, patients “may” then be contagious, these beginning symptoms are;

Temp – 101 to 104 F

Fatigue, Headache, Backache, Chills, Vomiting, and Abdominal Pain.

Once skin lesions and faults show themselves, the patient is contagious. Many other lesser diseases can be interpreted as smallpox therefore; laboratory testing is the only certain way to identify the smallpox variola virus.

The most contagious time during the eruptive phase is the first 7-10 days. During this time most patients have low energy and generally are not mobile in their community. This is a useful component in controlling the spread of this virus. Transmission is highest from direct contact and in rare conditions by air in enclosed areas such as buildings, buses and trains. Body fluids and contaminated bedding or clothing can also spread this disease.

Prevention and control is best achieved by immunization and recognition which led to the original eradication of this disease. As this process has wide ranging issues, the immediate plan shall be to isolate & separate affected patients. Contract tracing should begin immediately after the first confirmation of smallpox contagion.

Once cases are identified, follow local CDC protocols. If you currently have none adapt the (see VHF series) decontamination protocols listed in the archive of for VHF (viral hemorrhagic fever) exposures.

Protocols and procedures are frequently revised and updated for any organization dealing with this threat, you should regularly check with the CDC for new revisions to your existing practices.

                 Haz Mat Mike





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