Sample Alert Messages for Healthcare Providers
Note: These scenarios are examples of alert messages that state and local public health departments can use to create their own alert messages as part of their smallpox emergency planning efforts. They are written to cover different aspects of a hypothetical smallpox emergency.
Scenario 1: Sample alert message for healthcare providers in area without any cases of smallpox
On [date], the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) confirmed that [#] individuals in [city] have been confirmed to have smallpox. At this time, there are no suspected, probable, or confirmed cases within [area name].
We do not know the extent or the source of the smallpox outbreak. Local, state, and federal officials, including public health and law enforcement, are working together to find these answers. They will update you as they learn more.
Smallpox is a serious, life-threatening disease. There are no medications to cure smallpox, though medical care may help manage some of the symptoms. There are vaccines for smallpox. When given before exposure to the smallpox virus, vaccination can prevent the disease. When given within several days of an exposure to the virus, vaccination may prevent a person from developing smallpox, or may lessen the severity of disease.
The [public health department] recommends that all medical providers and first responders in [area name] review the information for diagnosing and treating smallpox found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at www.cdc.gov/smallpox. This website also provides information about the smallpox vaccines, vaccine administration, and vaccine adverse events.
If you suspect a patient has smallpox, contact [local public health department] at [phone number] immediately for consultation. Follow guidelines for standard, contact, and airborne precautions to protect healthcare workers and other patients. If smallpox is diagnosed in the area, CDC will make the vaccine available.
[Public health department] will update the public and medical communities as the situation changes or more information is known. Contact [public health department] at [phone number] or [URL] for more information.
Scenario 2: Sample alert message for healthcare providers in area with cases of smallpox
On [date], [#] patients were diagnosed with smallpox in [area]. [Public health department] has enacted its emergency plan and has activated an Emergency Operations Center to coordinate response efforts. [Public health department] has begun vaccinating all emergency response healthcare workers providing care to smallpox patients. Once we have finished vaccinating emergency responders, we will notify you about how to obtain smallpox vaccination for you and your staff.
We urge all healthcare providers in the area to be aware of the initial symptoms of smallpox, including:
- Fever as high as 101°F to 105°F (38.3°C to 40.6°C)
- Severe abdominal pain
These prodromal symptoms last anywhere from two to four days. Rash lesions develop after the fever subsides.
If you suspect a patient has smallpox, contact [local public health department] at [phone number] immediately for consultation. Follow guidelines for standard, contact, and airborne precautions to protect healthcare workers and other patients.
[Public health department] is working closely with hospital infection control practitioners to ensure all staff have the necessary personal protective equipment and training to reduce the likelihood of transmission of disease from patients to staff or other patients.
If you have questions about how to diagnose or treat a patient with smallpox, contact [public health department] at [phone number] or visit [URL]. More detailed information about smallpox is also available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/smallpox.
[Public health department] will update the medical community with information as the situation changes or new information is known.