General pandemic information
Community Based Assessment Centre - CBAC
District Health Boards (DHBs) have responsibility under the New Zealand Influenza Pandemic Action Plan for a high level of preparedness for a pandemic event, including plans for the establishment of Community Based Assessment Centres or CBACs.
Nelson Marlborough Health's CBAC plan has identified a number of key locations within the District that could potentially be used for a CBAC.
Further Information on CBACS can be found on the Ministry of Health website.
Symptoms of influenza
Fever, cough and fatigue are the most common symptoms of influenza; a fuller range of influenza features includes:
Other Important Information
Bronchitis, pneumonia and ear infections may follow influenza. Influenza infection may also aggravate pre-existing health problems, like heart disease or asthma.
Babies, Children and Elderly
In newborn babies and children under two, fever may be the only symptom or there may be non-specific features such as pallor, floppiness or poor feeding. Children under two are more likely to present with diarrhoea and vomiting than older children.
Children and youth between 5 and 17 years of age most frequently present with fever, cough, runny nose, headache, rigors (chills), muscle aches and sore throat.
Elderly people aged 65 years and older, especially those who are frail or living in residential facilities, and persons who are immunosuppressed (chronic medical conditions such as renal failure, those taking medication such as steroids or chemotherapy) are more likely to have severe, complicated or atypical influenza infections. For example, the patient may not have a fever and may take longer to recover.
Women who have an influenza infection in their second and third trimesters are at increased risk of cardio-respiratory complications of influenza. This is probably due to an increase in heart rate, stroke volume and oxygen consumption observed in these months, as well as to decreases in lung capacity and changes to immunological function.
How is influenza spread?
The influenza virus can be found in the nose, throat and phlegm of infected patients. It has also been found in the faeces of infected patients with diarrhoea. Human-to-human spread of influenza is mainly by droplets that come out of the mouth of infected persons when sneezing, coughing or talking. These droplets can travel about 1 metre from an infected person and will spread the infection if they land in the mouth, nose or eyes of another person.
The influenza virus can spread via kissing or hand-to-hand if that person then touches his or her mouth, nose or eyes. The virus may get onto surfaces around an infected person, such as cups, cigarettes, pens, door knobs, keyboards etc. and can survive for up to 48 hours on hard surfaces. From a surface, the virus can spread if that item comes into contact with your hand, mouth, nose or eyes.
Persons who are infected with influenza can spread the virus from 6 to 12 hours before their symptoms start until 7 days after their symptoms start (adults). This infectious period may be up to 14 days in school children and 21 days in children under 5 years old. The risk of spread is highest when the person has symptoms.
Consider a yearly influenza vaccine
- Ask your doctor for an influenza vaccination each year. The usual yearly flu jabs will not protect you against a new pandemic virus but they will help stop you getting ill with other influenza viruses. Because these viruses change all the time, you need to get vaccinated each year
- Vaccination is free for people aged 65 years and over and adults and children with certain long-term (chronic) conditions.
Get the pandemic influenza vaccine when it becomes available
- A specific vaccine against the pandemic influenza virus will take several months to be developed once the pandemic virus is identified. When available to the New Zealand public, you will be notified about when and how to get it.
- When influenza is widespread in the community, avoiding gatherings of people and public places (e.g., public transport) may reduce your chances of catching the virus
- Try to stay a metre away from sick people (if you are caring for someone with influenza, see advice below – link).
- Washing and drying your hands properly is one of the best ways of protecting yourself against the spread of germs such as influenza. Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water (then dry hands well) or apply an alcohol-based rub.
- Wash and dry your hands:
- before preparing food and eating
- after coughing or sneezing, blowing noses, wiping children's noses, visiting the toilet or looking after sick people
- Keep your coughs and sneezes covered. Put tissues straight into a covered, lined rubbish bin or a plastic bag and wash your hands
What to do if you get influenza
- Most people with influenza will recover after a few days illness and can be cared for at home.
- During a pandemic if you think you might have influenza:
Go to the NMDHB influenza self-assessment page to find out whether you have influenza or not and whether you need to go to a community-based assessment centre, or
Phone the free NMDHB Pandemic Influenza Care Centre on 0800 FLU INFO, or
Phone the Ministry of Health Pandemic Influenza information service on 0800 HEALTHLINE.
- If you have symptoms of influenza and need help, go to your nearest community-based assessment centre. Do not go to your GP or to the hospital – you are likely to be turned away and sent to a community-based assessment centre.
- If you are unable to get to the community-based assessment centre, ask the staff member at the NMDHB Pandemic Influenza Care Centre (0800 FLU INFO) about transport options.
Simple personal health measures
- Take paracetamol, Nurofen® (or another anti-inflammatory pain reliever) to treat fever or aching muscles or joints – NOTE avoid giving children asprin).
- Drink plenty of fluids (adults - at least 2 litres per day)
- Get plenty of bed rest but make sure you have a walk each day
- Avoid exposure to tobacco smoke
- Older persons, pregnant women and those with chronic illnesses are at increased risk of complications from influenza. In addition to the guidelines above, ensure supervision from family or friends and/or arrange reassessment by phone or visit to a community influenza clinic after 48 hours
- Take anti-influenza medication (e.g. Tamiflu) and/or antibiotics and other medications if prescribed.
When and how to seek further help
- Seek further help if you are not improving, are not coping at home or are worried about your health (e.g. increasing shortness of breath, chest pain, worsening cough, vomiting)
- Call the Nelson Marlborough Health Pandemic Influenza Care Centre (0800 FLU INFO).
Preventing the spread of influenza at home
Sick persons should:
- Stay in their own room or stay at least 1 metre from others
- Keep the room well ventilated (e.g. keep the windows and doors of the room open if possible)
- Use disposable tissues for nose wiping
- Cover nose and mouth with a disposable tissue when sneezing and coughing
- Wash or cleanse hands after coughing, sneezing or using tissues
- Avoid sharing utensils with others
- Gloves are not routinely necessary as long as hands are washed or cleansed (plain soap is fine for this) before and after contact with a sick person
- Wear gloves if contact will be made with the sick person’s blood, bodily secretions, mucous membranes, wounds or broken areas of skin
- Single-use disposable medical gloves should not be washed or reused; dishwashing gloves may be washed and dried between use; plastic bags can also be used as gloves
- When providing care avoid touching your eyes or mouth with your hands
- Wear a mask if you are likely to be splashed with sprays of blood or bodily secretions (e.g.person coughing in your face)
- Monitor your own temperature twice daily and watch for influenza symptoms
Cleaning, laundry and rubbish
- Surfaces and objects that have been touched by the sick person should be cleaned daily with a regular household cleaning agent. Products labeled antibacterial are not necessary but may be used
- Special handling of laundry is not necessary: regular washing detergent, normal machine wash and dry or hanging linens on a clothes line is effective
Special handling of rubbish is not required. Don’t throw sharp objects (e.g. needles) in household rubbish; handle them carefully, put them in a metal can or other safe (hard) container then take them to a hospital or medical facility for disposal.
Antiviral medication for influenza
Oseltamivir (Tamiflu®) is a commercially available antiviral that can be used to treat acute influenza when started within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. Tamiflu has been stockpiled by the New Zealand Government for use during a pandemic. This will be allocated in accordance with nationally determined priorities.
Tamiflu® does not take away the symptoms of influenza immediately but it shortens the duration of influenza illness, reduces complications and reduces the need for antibiotics for secondary bacterial infections. Between 5% and 15% of persons taking Tamiflu® suffer nausea and vomiting but this is generally mild and lasts less than a day. The risk of nausea and vomiting is less if the Tamiflu® is taken with food. There are no other important side-effects.
Page last updated: 30/03/2016