April 23, 2013

Department of Infection Control and Prevention issues alert about new viruses

Novel Coronavirus and H7N9 Avian Influenza Infections:
Information for providers

Recently, international public health authorities have reported infections due to two types of novel respiratory viruses in patients outside of the United States.

The first virus is a novel coronavirus that was first identified in humans in April 2012. Since then, 17 people from the Middle East and the United Kingdom have been infected with this new virus, 11 of whom died.

The second virus is a novel avian influenza virus of the H7N9 subtype. The first human cases of H7N9 influenza infection were reported earlier this month, and as of April 16, all 63 cases (including 11deaths) of H7N9 influenza infection have occurred in China.

To date, limited human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus has been reported in a single family cluster, while no human-to-human transmission of H7N9 influenza has been identified. At present, there have been no reports of either virus causing infection in patients in the United States.

We remind all clinicians to be vigilant to ensure early identification of potential cases of these infections presenting at VUMC. This includes the following:

1) Prompt screening of all patients with fever and respiratory symptoms for the following (screening tools available at www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/infectioncontrol).
a. Recent travel to countries with reported cases of either infection, OR
b. Close contact with any ill person who had recent travel to such countries within 10 days prior to symptom onset.

2) Placement of a mask on any patient meeting the screening criteria above.

3) Placement of the patient into ENHANCED isolation precautions (patient placed into negative pressure room; providers wear N-95 fit-tested respirator, gloves, gown, and eye protection prior to room entry).

4) Promptly contact the Department of Infection Control & Prevention regarding any patients that meet the screening criteria (pager 835-1205).

We are hopeful that sustained human-to-human transmission of these viruses will not occur, but we appreciate your help in remaining prepared for this possibility.

If you have any questions or need additional information, please see www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/infectioncontrol or contact the VUMC Department of Infection Control & Prevention at 936-0725 or via pager 835-1205.