Importance of Emergency Preparedness for Bleeding Disorders Patients and Families
Latest reports indicate that a total of 642 cases of swine flu, now called H1N1 influenza A, and one fatality in 41 states have now been documented, causing heightened concern for many Americans. For the bleeding disorders community, however, it is important to note that the virus does not pose a threat to the safety of plasma-derived clotting factor products. Influenza is a lipid-enveloped virus that is inactivated by a variety of steps in the manufacturing processes used for all licensed products. In addition, prospective plasma donors who show symptoms of flu during the screening process are deferred from making a donation. The fact that no case of influenza transmitted by transfusion has been reported in the scientific literature is a strong indicator of the safety of the current system.
What is important for all members of the bleeding disorder community is to remember: Always Be Prepared. Know the basic steps in being prepared for emergencies, including:
- Keep a sufficient supply of factor on hand.
- Know of a back-up HTC, or care option, in case your own HTC staff is affected by swine flu.
- Avoid crowded hospitals and ERs that might be dealing with real or suspected cases of this flu.
- Check the CDC Web site (below), and a full list of HTCs across the country.
- Check in with HANDI, NHF’s information resource center--www.hemophilia.org or 800.42.HANDI-- for updates on the concerns about swine flu and any impact they may have on people with bleeding disorders and their families.
- If you are traveling to a different area, bring medical records, prescriptions and factor supply with you. Inform your HTC and chapter about your contact information.
CDC Web Info
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have created a Web page with up-to-date information on the H1N1 virus, including prevention information and other guidance. The page can be found at:
Treatment Guidelines for Healthcare Professionals
The CDC is also providing guidance for healthcare professionals treating individuals who are confirmed to have contracted H1N1 or have been exposed to it. This information can be found at:
HIV/AIDS and Swine Flu
Experts do not believe that people living with HIV or AIDS are at increased risk for contracting flu. However, individuals with low CD4 cell counts who do contract flu may be at greater risk for complications, including lower respiratory tract infections and pneumonia. Specific information on this subject geared to clinicians is available from the CDC at:
Although there are no current supply issues, if H1N1 continues to spread and large numbers of donors are deferred, it is possible that the supply of plasma and products could eventually be affected. NHF will work closely with industry and appropriate government agencies to monitor and address this situation if it becomes an issue.
Flu and You
Individuals who have flu symptoms are encouraged to contact their primary care or hemophilia treatment center physician.
In the weeks ahead, NHF will endeavor to keep the community informed of any new developments.