To reduce the risk of infection, healthcare workers who are in close contact with individuals who have the influenza H1N1, or swine flu, virus should use fit-tested N95 respirators or other respirators that are shown to be more effective, according to a new report from the Institute of Medicine.
IOM researchers also said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, other federal agencies and private institutions should fund and undertake additional research on a variety of issues related to H1N1, including the routes of influenza transmission, the effectiveness of personal respiratory technologies, and the design and development of the next generation of those respiratory technologies.
The IOM report was released on the same day the CDC, in its weekly report, said that as of Aug. 8, the H1N1 virus has caused 477 U.S. deaths, including 36 children under the age of 18. Of those children who died, 67% had at least one chronic, high-risk medical condition.
In a news conference, CDC Director Thomas Frieden said that while the virus is spreading in the U.S.-particularly in the Southeast-it has not changed to become more deadly. "This means we have to vigorously monitor it, and be ready and prepared to change our approach, depending on what it does," Frieden said.
Also, he reiterated the message that people with underlying conditions who experience flu-like symptoms should see a physician for prompt treatment, while those who do not have underlying conditions and experience flu-like symptoms should visit a physician or hospital only if their symptoms are severe.