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New fever clinic plans boost preparedness for pandemic flu

12 April, 2007

The Department of Health has released fever clinic guidelines to strengthen Western Australia’s health response to pandemic influenza.

Director of Communicable Disease Control Dr Paul Van Buynder said fever clinics were specially designated facilities that would be established in a pandemic to isolate suspected influenza patients and control the spread of disease.

The new Guidelines for Establishing A Fever Clinic During an Influenza Pandemic, and the accompanying DVD and CD ROM, outline how fever clinics should be set up and what steps should be taken to maximise infection control during a pandemic.

Dr Van Buynder said that while pandemic influenza posed no immediate threat to the health of Western Australians, it was important that plans were in place to delay and contain the potential spread of disease.

“There is a real possibility that the world will experience another pandemic influenza in the future and these guidelines are another important step to boost our response plans,” he said.

“These resources, which are an annex of the Western Australian Health Management Plan for Pandemic Influenza, provide a practical framework for health practitioners that would allow them to plan for fever clinics should the need arise.”

Dr Van Buynder said fever clinics would reduce the number of patients who attended general practitioner surgeries and emergency departments and reduce the risk of infection in the community.

“Staff at fever clinics would give advice on infection control, dispense antiviral therapy and organise referrals to designated Influenza hospitals to stop the spread of disease,” he said.

Dr Van Buynder said the new resources, which would be distributed to all Area Health Services to assist their planning, showed WA Health’s commitment to ongoing pandemic influenza preparedness planning.

An updated version of the Western Australian Health Management Plan is due for release later this year.

Last October, the Department held a simulated fever clinic trial at Rosalie Park in Shenton Park to assess people presenting with influenza-like symptoms.

The exercise was run in conjunction with the nationwide Exercise Cumpston 06, designed to test Australia’s preparedness for widespread human-to-human transmission of H5N1 bird flu strain of the influenza virus and as a training exercise for health workers.

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