Thank you for continuing to report potential outbreaks of infection to the Health Protection Team.

Over the last week we have noted a higher number of respiratory outbreaks being reported (18 current respiratory outbreaks in Hertfordshire care homes on 13th January 2017).

If  you have 2 residents or more with similar symptoms within the same 48 hour period, please contact the Health Protection Team on telephone 0300 303 8537.

They will be able to advise you if this indeed is an outbreak, and will also advise regarding any additional infection control measures that are required.

You should also contact the GP who will have access to the most up to date guidance regarding the prescribing of antivirals for suspected flu cases and contacts.

If a care home admits a resident with an influenza type illness to the Acute Trust during the outbreak then these residents can return to the home whilst the outbreak is still ongoing. If their admission was unrelated to influenza, then they can only be discharged back to a care home that has an on-going respiratory virus outbreak after careful assessment.

During this difficult period the Nursing and Quality teams in the CCGs will ring the homes to clinically assess the risks and to agree whether you can take admissions or take people back from the acute trusts. This will not happen at weekends.

Consideration will be given to affected sections of the home and the location of the resident within the care homes and whether staffing illness is a serious factor to the safety for all the residents in the home.

Thank you for your continued vigilance and heightened standards of Infection Prevention and Control at this time of year.