17 June 2009


As far as I know there are no reported cases in Kenya, but I got the email just now and figured I would share.

Embassy of the United States of America

Nairobi, Kenya

June 17, 2009

Warden Message

Flu Update

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently changed the pandemic alert level for H1N1 influenza to phase 6. This designation is based on geographic spread of the influenza virus, not on the severity of the illness.

The Foreign Service Health Units at US Embassies around the world and The State Department’s Office of Medical Services (MED) in Washington, DC, have been preparing for a pandemic and have been implementing a pandemic response plan for the past few weeks. The U.S. health agencies have begun the work necessary to produce a vaccine and are working with CDC and other national and international agencies on community mitigation strategies and monitoring and tracking the virus.

The goal since the outbreak began has been to try and stay one step ahead of this unpredictable virus and do the planning and preparation necessary to keep our entire staff safe and secure.

Although the virus continues to spread to other countries, the disease continues to be a mild one for the most part.  Health Officials are not seeing significant changes in the virus in samples from various countries.

The WHO announcement is an alert to all health agencies both here and in other countries in the southern hemisphere that the virus is likely present and health authorities should heighten their surveillance activities and review their pandemic plans. This is being done here in Kenya and throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

Agencies in the US are working hard across the government to be prepared for what happens in the northern hemisphere autumn with H1N1 when the traditional flu season starts. The goal is to have a vaccine tested and ready to go should the science determine we need to begin an immunization campaign.

As a reminder from the US Embassy, here is the list of actions that can be taken to decrease the chances of getting sick and what to do if you become ill.

Everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Take these everyday steps to protect your health:

Ø Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.  If you do not have a tissue available, cough or sneeze into your elbow.  Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.

Ø Try to avoid close contact with sick people. Keep a distance, when possible, of 1-2 meters from persons ill with a respiratory infection.

Ø If you get sick with influenza the CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. Most influenza illness will make you feel pretty miserable though will not prove to be life-threatening.  Fever can be treated with ibuprofen or acetaminophen; avoid the use of any aspirin containing products particularly in children.

Ø Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Ø Contact your private physician or healthcare provider.

Other CDC Guidance for the current declared level:

· If someone in the household is sick, well adults and children do not need to stay home.

· School and child care dismissal is not generally recommended, but may be considered depending on the local impact of the disease.

· Workplace and Community adult social distancing efforts (e.g., encouraging teleconferences instead of meetings, reducing density, meaning the number of people crowded into a small space, in public, transit, or in the work place, postponing or cancelling selected public gatherings, encouraging people to telework, or take staggered shifts) are generally not recommended.