About Swine Influenza
Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs. Human infections were previously thought to be rare and rarely spread from person-to-person.
In 2009, cases of human infections, including in the United States, became more prevalent creating worldwide concern over the potential for a pandemic. The virus is considered contagious, although it is not known how easily it spreads from human to human. Since the virus can be transmitted prior to the onset of symptoms, it is possible for an infected person to infect someone else before knowing they are sick.
To help control the spread of the Swine Flu virus, the US Center for Disease Control, in partnership with other federal agencies, issued the following recommendations pertaining to the usage of gloves:
The Center for Disease Control recommends that personnel providing care to suspected or confirmed cases of Swine Flu use non-sterile gloves to prevent conjunctival exposure. Laboratory personnel processing or performing diagnostic testing on clinical specimens from patients with suspected swine influenza A (HIN1) virus infection, or performing viral isolation are also encouraged to double glove.
During the care of any resident with symptoms of a respiratory infection, health care personnel at acute and long-term care facilities should adhere to standard precautions, including wearing gloves if hand contact with respiratory secretions or potentially contaminated surfaces is anticipated. Gloves should be changed and hands decontaminated before after touching the resident, the resident’s environment, or the resident’s respiratory secretions.
Flight crews arriving from domestic and international areas affected by Swine Influenza should wear impermeable, disposable gloves onboard aircraft if they need to have direct contact with potentially contaminated surfaces such as airplane seats, tray tables, and lavatories used by ill passengers.
No other recommendations regarding glove usage (including use of gloves in foodservice) have been issued by the CDC at this time. Swine Flu cannot be spread by food, so eating and handling pork products is considered safe.
As always, maintaining proper hand washing practices is a key to preventing the spread of virus. Consult your respective state health department for specific Swine Flu regulations and guidelines for gloves.