Students Exposed to Influenza (Novel H1N1 and Seasonal Influenza) The likelihood of developing influenza after close exposure to a known case (“secondary attack rate”) for seasonal influenza ranges from 5% to 15%. Current estimates of the secondary attack rate of novel H1N1 from household exposures is estimated to be about 27% (or 73% chance you won’t develop influenza). Because it is more likely that one will not get the flu after an isolated exposure, it is not practical or desirable for most individuals to take anti-viral prophylaxis.
Personal Protective Equipment (respirator) should be worn when caring for patients or family members with confirmed or suspected influenza to reduce the need for post-exposure antiviral medication.
Antiviral Prophylaxis (with oseltamivir or zanamivir) is about 70% to 90% effective in preventing infection against susceptible influenza viruses. An alternative to antiviral prophylaxis is for persons to recognize the signs and symptoms of the flu and begin treatment at the earliest stage of infection.
Who Should Receive Anti-Viral Prophylaxis (or initiation of antiviral treatment at the earliest onset of flu symptoms)?
People at higher risk for complicated influenza infections who have had contact with someone with confirmed/likely influenza during that person’s infectious period.
Health care personnel, public health workers, or first responders who have had unprotected close contact exposure to a person with confirmed/likely influenza during that person’s infectious period.
Consideration for Anti-Viral Medication is given to those exposed individuals who are pregnant women, taking care of < 6 month old infants or individuals with immunocompromised medical conditions. In these instances, it may be more desirable to begin antiviral treatment at the first sign of flu symptoms, than to take antiviral medication preventively.
Who Should Not Receive Anti-Viral Prophylaxis?
Antiviral agents should not be used for post exposure prophylaxis in healthy children or adults based on potential exposures in the community, school, camp or other settings.
Prophylaxis generally is not recommended if more than 48 hours have elapsed since the last contact with an infectious person.
Prophylaxis is not indicated when contact occurred before or after, but not during, the ill person’s infectious period as defined above.
Can I attend classes or clinical rotations if I have been exposed?
Student who have been exposed to influenza but do not have a febrile respiratory illness may continue attend classes/clinical rotations as long as they are symptom free.
Students who have close exposure to the flu should be alert to the early signs and symptoms of influenza and remove themselves from the clinical setting at the first sign of illness.