Published Online: Thursday, March 1, 2007

The United States is looking at school closings and workplace modifications during the initial wave of a severe influenza pandemic. The strategies are only part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) newly released guidelines. The recommendations may be needed to slow the spread of illness and reduce the number of deaths.

"At the very onset of a pandemic, we're going to be stuck to deal with this without our best countermeasure, which would be enough vaccine for the whole population," noted Martin Cetron, MD, a CDC expert in pandemic flu. "We have to recognize that we're going to face the first wave of this without [the vaccine]."

Based on the severity of the pandemic, the recommendations include the following:

  • Ask ill individuals to stay at home 7 to 10 days; ask their household members to stay at home for about 7 days
  • Dismiss students from schools and close day care programs for up to 12 weeks
  • Cancel or postpone all large public gatherings
  • Change workplace policies to include flextime or off-site work to limit interaction

Dr. Cetron said that the guidelines can be adjusted as needed. The strategies are meant to serve as a starting point to "begin to anticipate what they need to do."

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