Supplemental Interim Guidance for School Administrators Associated with Possible Outbreaks of H3N2 Variant Influenza Virus (“H3N2v”)
Influenza A viruses that normally circulate in swine are called “variant” viruses when they infect humans. During July-August 2012, an increased number of cases of human infection with an influenza A (H3N2) variant “H3N2v” virus were identified in several different states. H3N2v virus infection is similar to seasonal influenza (flu) in terms of symptoms and severity of illness. All recently confirmed cases have reported contact with pigs, primarily at agricultural fairs. However, limited person-to-person transmission of this virus has been identified in the past and may recur. No outbreaks in schools have been identified to date. This supplemental guidance reflects the situation as of August 15, 2012, and provides information on how to help find suspected cases of H3N2v virus infection and slow the spread of flu viruses, including H3N2v virus, in K-12 schools.
As schools re-open each year, there is often an increase in flu-like illness (fever and either cough or sore throat) in students. This year, it is important to consider the possibility of H3N2v virus infection in students as school start dates approach.
Key Messages about H3N2v Virus Infection for K-12 School Personnel
To help find suspected cases of H3N2v virus in students:
- Ask students with flu-like symptoms whether they have recently touched or been near a pig, or had close contact with a sick person who has been near pigs, particularly in states where H3N2v virus cases have been confirmed.
- Notify the local health department of any student with flu-like illness and who reports that they have recently been near pigs or had close contact with someone who has been near pigs. They should be tested for H3N2v virus infection.
To help slow the spread of flu viruses, including H3N2v virus, in schools:
- Refer students with flu-like illness at high risk for complications from flu to their health care provider, regardless of whether they have recently been near pigs.
- Encourage sick students and staff to stay home until their illness is over.
- Teach students and staff to take everyday preventive actions, including:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If soap and water are not available, an alcohol-based hand rub may be used.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread that way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- Encourage students and staff to get the seasonal flu vaccine. While this vaccine will not protect against H3N2v virus, it will help to slow the spread of seasonal flu viruses in schools.
- Share key messages about H3N2v virus with staff, including teachers and nurses.
- Inform parents and guardians on how to protect themselves and their children from H3N2v virus.
- For full guidance on how to help slow the spread of flu in K-12 schools, see the Guidance for School Administrators to Help Reduce the Spread of Seasonal Influenza in K-12 Schools.