Direct Relief is sending specifically requested N95 particulate respirators to five partner clinics in California and Texas today in response to the Swine Influenza A/H1N1 outbreak. The shipments are designed to equip clinic providers should an outbreak of swine flu occur in their areas.
Christ Clinic in Katy, Texas is receiving N95 masks. The following clinics in California will be receiving the masks as well: Northeast Valley Health Corp., San Fernando; Coalition of Orange County Community Clinics, Irvine; Laguna Beach Community Clinic, Laguna Beach; and Vista Community Clinic, Vista.
Since word of the flu’s spread last week, Direct Relief has been in contact with national, state, and local partners and government bodies to offer assistance and provide targeted emergency response. These nationwide contacts include: National Association of Community Health Centers and National Association of Free Clinics. State-level contacts include: California Emergency Medical Services Authority, California Volunteers, California Primary Care Association, and Texas Association of Community Health Centers. Santa Barbara area contacts include: Santa Barbara County Department of Public Health, Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics, and Doctors Without Walls/Santa Barbara Street Medicine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration recommend that healthcare providers in contact with potential swine flu cases use surgical N95 respirators to assist in protection against exposure to microorganisms and very small particles such as fine aerosolized droplets produced by coughing. N95 respirators fit closely around the nose and mouth, offering greater protection than a regular face mask to help prevent transmission of the virus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday raised the swine flu outbreak to Phase 4, or the human-to-human transmission stage, which indicates that preventing transmission is an appropriate measure. The new viral strain, which appeared originally in Mexico, has been identified in 64 people in the U.S., with 105 cases worldwide, according to the WHO. It has not caused any fatalities in patients outside of Mexico.
Direct Relief has expanded offers of assistance to its longstanding network of partners in 59 countries should the disease expand into their respective areas.