Flu Outbreak Management Resources

Do you suspect an outbreak?

All suspected influenza outbreaks within institutional settings, like long-term care facilities, schools or childcare facilities, should be reported to the Vermont Department of Health Infectious Disease Epidemiology section by calling 802-863-7240 (available 24/7). 

Much of the guidance and information you find here can be used during any respiratory outbreak, not just flu.

In any outbreak:

  • Get vaccinated
  • Cover mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing
  • Wash hands often with soap and water
  • Routinely clean and disinfect commonly-touched surfaces
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth

Find outbreak management resources for your facility

Outbreak at a Long-Term Care Facility

What is an outbreak?

A single resident with a postive flu test and two or more additional residents with respriatory illness symptoms.

OR

Two or more residents with at least two of the following symptoms:

  • fever of 100 degrees farenheit or more
  • nonproductive cough
  • myalgia (muscle pain)
  • pharyngitis (sore throat)

If an outbreak is suspected:

  1. Report influenza-like illness outbreaks to the Health Department by calling 802-863-7240. A staff member is available 24/7 to take an outbreak report. They will ask about symptoms, onset, case totals, exposure, treatments, outcomes, and actions taken.
  2. Collect specimens from 4-6 residents within 72 hours of symptom onset for testing at the Vermont Department of Health Laboratory using the testing instructions and forms.
  3. Treat symptomatic residents with antivirals. Do not wait for laboratory confirmation of the flu.
  4. Sick staff should stay home until 24 hours after fever has resolved without the use of fever-reducing medication.
  5. Start a list of sick residents and staff and track symptom onset using the Influenza-like illness line list.

Actions to Control the outbreak

  • Stop taking new admissions or transfers when possible.
  • Discourage symptomatic people from visiting.
  • Follow droplet precautions for symptomatic residents.
  • Encourage symptomatic residents to practice respiratory hygiene.
  • Ensure ill employees do not work.
  • Do not float staff between units.
  • Provide training in infection control and hand hygiene for staff.
  • Restrict symptomatic residents to their rooms, or cohort on the infected unit.
  • Limit group activities and serve meals in rooms.
  • If a resident is transferred to another facility during the outbreak, notify the receiving facility of the outbreak whether or not the individual has symptoms.
  • Offer flu vaccine to unvaccinated staff, residents and new admissions througout the flu season.

Get a Quick Reference Guide

Get an Outbreak Plan Guide

Vermont Department of Health Resources

CDC Resources for Long-Term Care Facilities

Posters and Print Materials

Outbreak at a K-12 School

What is an outbreak?

Increased absenteeism throughout the school in association with influenza-like illness. This includes:

  • students who are sent home with fever and cough or sore throat
  • absent students with parental reports of flu, or
  • absent students with parental reports of fever and cough or sore throat.

If an outbreak is suspected:

  1. Report influenza-like illness outbreaks to the Health Department by calling 802-863-7240. The Health Department will ask about symptoms, onset, case totals, grades affected, and actions taken.
  2. Sick students and staff should stay home until 24 hours after fever has resolved without the use of fever-reducing medication.
  3. Start a list of sick students and staff and track symptom onset using the Influenza-like illness line list.

Actions to control the outbreak:

  • Encourage washing hands with soap and water.
  • Provide tissues and no-touch trash cans around the school and classrooms.
  • Routinely clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces.
  • Send a letter home to parents with flu prevention information.
  • Avoid touching mouth, eyes or nose.
  • Encourage staff to stay home if they are sick.
  • Encourage students not to share food or drinks.
  • Encourage any unvaccinated staff to get vaccinated.
  • Recommend that students and their families get vaccinated.

Get a Quick Reference Guide

Vermont Department of Health Resources

CDC Resources for Schools

Posters and Print Materials

 
Outbreak at a Child Care Facility

What is an outbreak?

Increased absenteeism throughout the facility in association with influenza-like illness. This includes:

  • children who go home early with fever and cough or sore throat,
  • absent children with parental reports of flu,
  • absent children with parental reports of fever and cough or sore throat.

If an outbreak is suspected:

  1. Report influenza-like illness outbreaks to the Health Department by calling 802-863-7240. The Health Department will ask about symptoms, onset, case totals, and actions taken.
  2. Sick children and staff should stay home until 24 hours after fever has resolved without the use of fever-reducing medication.
  3. Start a list of sick children and staff and track symptom onset using the Influenza-like illness line list.

Actions to Control the outbreak

  • Encourage washing hands with soap and water.
  • Provide tissues and no-touch trash cans around the facility.
  • Routinely clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces.
  • Send a letter home to parents with flu prevention information.
  • Avoid touching mouth, eyes, or nose.
  • Discourage sharing of food or drinks between children.
  • Encourage any unvaccinated staff to get vaccinated.
  • Recommend that children and their families get vaccinated.

Get a Quick Reference Guide

Vermont Department of Health Resources

CDC Resources for Child Care Facilities

Posters and Print Materials

 
Outbreak at a Shelter

What is an outbreak?

An outbreak is when you are seeing multiple people at your facility with flu-like symptoms, like:

  • fever
  • cough
  • headache
  • body aches
  • fatigue
  • sore throat
  • chills

If an outbreak is suspected:

If you are seeing multiple people at your facility with flu-like symptoms, please call the Infectious Disease Program anytime at 802-863-7240. A staff member is available 24/7 to help you.

Actions to Control the outbreak

  • Encourage staff to get a flu shot.
  • Be aware when individuals have flu-like symptoms.
  • Staff and volunteers should stay home until their fever has been gone for at least 24 hours.
  • Put up posters around the facility that show hygiene practices, such as covering coughs and sneezes and proper handwashing.
  • Place alcohol-based hand sanitizer in areas where handwashing is not available.
  • Perform routine surface cleaning of commonly-touched surfaces like door knobs.
  • Place tissues and trash cans around the facility.
  • When possible, locate ill individuals away from those that are well.
  • Place cots head-to-toe and keep cots six feet apart.
  • Encourage individuals to report to a staff member if they are feeling ill.

Get a Flyer to Post in your Facility

Vermont Department of Health Resources

Posters and Print Materials