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National Situation Report From the Florida Division of Emergency Management
<>FEMA Registration - 800-621-3362/TTY - 800-462-7585
MCI LAUNCHES TOLL FREE SERVICE TO REUNITE LOVED ONES IMPACTED BY HURRICANE KATRINA

Department of Health and Social Services      Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
News Releases
September 8, 2005 -- Hurricane Evacuee Medical Intake Form
September 07, 2005 -- Cases of Vibrio vulnificus identified among Hurricane Katrina evacuees
September 05, 2005, -- Guidelines for the Management of Acute Diarrhea
September 5, 2005 -- Interim immunization recommendations for individuals displaced by Hurricane Katrina
September 4, 2005 -- Secretary Leavitt Taking Health, Social Services Resources to Evacuee Locations Throughout Gulf Region
September 3, 2005 --HHS Releases Website and Toll Free Number for Deployment  by Health Care Professionals
September 3, 2005 -- HHS Releases $27.25 Million in Emergency Energy Assistance To States Hit Hardest by Hurricane Katrina
September 2, 2005 -- Interim Immunization Recommendations for Emergency Responders: Hurricane Katrina
August 31, 2005  -- HHS DELIVERING MEDICAL CARE TO HELP EVACUEES AND VICTIMS


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
September 8, 2005
Health Affects
Health Alert Network (HAN): Hurricane Evacuee Medical Intake Form This interim form is intended to be used for medical intake assessment and triage of evacuees entering a shelter facility or evacuation center.  The form can be used to identify evacuees who may need additional medical evaluation and treatment.  The first page contains registration information for use by facility, local and state authorities.  The remaining pages can be used to anonymously report medical conditions among evacuees.
 
This intake form is available online at the following website:
http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/katrina/evacueeform.asp
 
Hurricane-Related Documents and Resources Recently Released or Updated
 
Hand Hygiene in Emergency Situations
http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/handwashing.asp

Trench foot or Immersion foot
http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/trenchfoot.asp
 
Key Facts About Infectious Diseases
http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/infectiousdisease.asp
 
Tuberculosis (TB) Concerns From Hurricane Katrina
http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/katrina/tb.asp
 
Daily Update on CDC's Response
http://www.cdc.gov/od/katrina/


<>September 07, 2005, 19:50 EDT (07:50 PM EDT)
CDCHAN-00233-05-09-07-ADV-N
Cases of Vibrio vulnificus identified among Hurricane Katrina evacuees

To date, seven people, in the area affected by Hurricane Katrina, have been reported to be ill from the bacterial disease, Vibrio vulnificus. Four have died. The first cases were reported by the Mississippi Department of Health. V. vulnificus can cause an infection of the skin when open wounds are exposed to warm seawater. People at greatest risk for illness from V. vulnificus are those with weakened immune systems and the elderly. Because V. vulnificus is a bacterium in the same family as the bacteria that causes cholera, some media reports have confused the two pathogens.

As part of the current investigation, CDC and other response agencies are working with health departments in affected states to help identify persons who might be at increased risk for V. vulnificus and recommend appropriate treatment for them.

What is Vibrio vulnificus?
Vibrio vulnificus is a bacterium that is a rare cause of illness in the United States.  The illness is very different from cholera, which is caused by different bacteria, called Vibrio cholerae.  V. vulnificus infections do not spread directly from one person to another, and are a serious health threat predominantly to persons with underlying illness, such as liver disease or a compromised immune system.  The organism is a natural inhabitant of warm coastal waters. Infection can occur after a wound is exposed to warm coastal waters where the V. vulnificus organism is growing.  Infection may also be acquired by eating raw or undercooked seafood from those waters.

CDC receives reports of over 400 Vibrio illnesses each year.  Of those, about 90 per year are due to V. vulnificus.  Most Vibrio vulnificus illness occurs during warm weather months.

Symptoms of infection with V. vulnificus
·       Acute illness, with a rapid decline in health following exposure
·       If exposed by contamination of an open wound, increasing swelling, redness, and pain at the site of the wound
·       Illness typically begins within 1-3 days of exposure, but begins as late as 7 days after exposure for a small percentage of cases

·       Fever
·       Swelling and redness of skin on arms or legs, with blood-tinged blisters
·       Low blood pressure and shock

By contrast, the symptoms of cholera are profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting. cramps, and low-grade fever.

Illness caused by V. vulnificus
Wound infections may start as redness and swelling at the site of the wound that then can progress to affect the whole body. V. vulnificus typically cause a severe and life-threatening illness characterized by fever and chills, decreased blood pressure (septic shock), and blood-tinged blistering skin lesions (hemorrhagic bullae). Overall, V. vulnificus infections are fatal about 40% of the time.  Wound infections with V. vulnificus are fatal about 20% of the time, and aggressive surgical treatment can prevent death.

How people become infected
V. vulnificus is found in oysters and other shellfish in warm coastal waters during the summer months. Since it is naturally found in warm marine waters, people with open wounds can be exposed to V. vulnificus through direct contact with seawater, shellfish, and marine wildlife. There is no evidence for person-to-person transmission of V. vulnificus.

Persons who have immunocompromising conditions, and, especially those with chronic liver disease, are particularly at risk for V. vulnificus infection when they eat raw or undercooked seafood, particularly shellfish harvested from the Gulf of Mexico, or if they bathe a cut or scrape in marine waters. About three-quarters of patients with Vibrio vulnificus infections have known underlying hepatic disease or other immunocompromising illness.  Otherwise healthy persons are at much lower risk of Vibrio vulnificus infection. 

Concerns in hurricane-affected areas
Persons with immunocompromising conditions and especially those with chronic liver disease should avoid exposure of open wounds or broken skin to warm salt or brackish water, and avoid consuming undercooked shellfish harvested from such waters.  More information on caring for wounds may be found in the CDC document Emergency Wound Management for Hurricane Professionals.

After a coastal flood disaster, large numbers of persons with illnesses that affect their resistance to infection may be exposed to seawater.  Injury prevention is especially important in high risk persons.  Wounds exposed to seawater should be washed with soap and water as soon as possible, infected wounds should be evaluated by a doctor, and clinicians should aggressively monitor these wounds. 

Diagnosis
V. vulnificus infection is diagnosed by microbiologic culture of the wound, by blood cultures, or by stool culture in the case of patients who consumed raw or undercooked seafood.

Treatment
V. vulnificus infection is treated with antibiotics. When this infection is suspected, treatment with a combination of a third-generation cephalosporin (e.g., ceftazidime) and doxycycline is recommended.  V. vulnificus wound infections should be treated with aggressive attention to the wound site; amputation of the affected limb is sometimes necessary.

Recovery
V. vulnificus infection is an acute illness, and those who recover should not expect long-term consequences.

Information about Vibrio surveillance may be found at http://www.cdc.gov/foodborneoutbreaks/vibrio_sum.htm


September 5, 2005,

<>

Guidelines for the Management of Acute Diarrhea

This is an official CDC Health Advisory

<>Increased incidence of acute diarrhea may occur in post-disaster situations where access to electricity, clean water, and sanitary facilities are limited. <>In addition, usual hygiene practices may be disrupted and healthcare seeking behaviors may be altered. <>The following are general guidelines for healthcare providers for the evaluation and treatment of patients presenting with acute diarrhea in

these situations.

<>However, specific patient treatment should be determined based on the healthcare provider’s clinical judgment. Any questions should be directed to the local health department.

 

CHILDREN

<>Indications for medical evaluation of infants and toddlers with acute diarrhea

∙ Young age (e.g., aged <6 months or weight <18 lbs.)

∙ Premature birth, history of chronic medical conditions or concurrent illness

<>∙ Fever ≥38 °C (100.4 °F) for infants aged <3 months or ≥39 °C (102.2 °F) for children aged 3—36 months

∙ Visible blood in stool

∙ High output diarrhea, including frequent and substantial volumes of stool

∙ Persistent vomiting

<>∙ Caregiver’s report of signs consistent with dehydration (e.g., sunken eyes or decreased tears, dry mucous membranes, or decreased urine output)

∙ Change in mental status (e.g., irritability, apathy, or lethargy)

<>∙ Suboptimal response to oral rehydration therapy already administered or inability of the caregiver to administer oral rehydration therapy

 

<>Principles of appropriate treatment for INFANTS AND TODDLERS with diarrhea and dehydration <>∙ Oral rehydration solutions (ORS) such as Pedialyte ® or Gastrolyte ® or similar commercially available solutions containing sodium, potassium and glucose should be used for rehydration whenever patient can drink the required volumes; otherwise appropriate intravenous fluids may be used. <>
∙ Oral rehydration should be taken by patient in small, frequent volumes (spoonfuls or small sips); see below link to table for recommended volumes and time period.
<>∙ For rapid realimentation, an age-appropriate, unrestricted diet is recommended as soon as dehydration is corrected

∙ For breastfed infants, nursing should be continued

<>∙ Additional ORS or other rehydration solutions should be administered for ongoing losses through diarrhea

∙ No unnecessary laboratory tests or medications should be administered

<>∙ The decision to treat with antimicrobial therapy should be made on a patient-by-patient basis, on clinical grounds, which may include

o Fever

o Bloody or mucoid stool

o Suspicion of sepsis

 

OLDER CHILDREN AND ADULTS

<>Indications for medical evaluation of children > 3 years old and adults with acute diarrhea

∙ Elderly age

∙ History of chronic medical conditions or concurrent illness

∙ Fever ≥39 °C (102.2 °F)

∙ Visible blood in stool

∙ High output of diarrhea, including frequent and substantial volumes of stool

∙ Persistent vomiting

<>∙ Signs consistent with dehydration (e.g., sunken eyes or decreased tears, dry mucous membranes,
orthostatic hypotension or decreased urine output)

∙ Change in mental status (e.g., irritability, apathy, or lethargy)

<>∙ Suboptimal response to oral rehydration therapy already administered or inability to administer oral rehydration therapy

 

Principles of appropriate treatment for ADULTS with diarrhea and dehydration

<>∙ Oral rehydration solutions (ORS) such as Pedialyte ® or Gastrolyte ® or similar commercially available solutions containing sodium, potassium and glucose should be used for rehydration whenever patient can drink the required volumes; otherwise appropriate intravenous fluids may be used. <>
∙ Oral rehydration should be taken by patient in small, frequent volumes (spoonfuls or  small sips); see below link to table for recommended volume and time period. <>
∙ For rapid realimentation, unrestricted diet is recommended as soon as dehydration is corrected
<>∙ Additional ORS or other rehydration solutions should be administered for ongoing losses through diarrhea

∙ No unnecessary laboratory tests or medications should be administered

<>∙ Antimotility agents such as Lomotil ® or Immodium ® should be considered only in patients who are NOT febrile or having bloody/mucoid diarrhea. Antimotility agents may reduce diarrheal output and cramps, but do not accelerate cure.
<>∙ The decision to treat with antimicrobial therapy should be made on a patient-by-patient basis, on clinical grounds, which may include

o Fever

o Bloody or mucoid stool

o Suspicion of sepsis

 

This document is also available online with a table describing the degrees of dehydration at

http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/dguidelines.asp

 

September 5, 2005
Interim immunization recommendations for individuals displaced by Hurricane Katrina

 

The purpose of these recommendations is two-fold:

1.To ensure that children, adolescents, and adults are protected against vaccine-preventable diseases in accordance with current recommendations.

 

2.To reduce the likelihood of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases in large crowded group settings.

 

In addition, the influenza season will begin soon and influenza can spread easily

under crowded conditions.

 

I.Recommended immunizations

If immunization records are available: 
Children and adults should be vaccinated according to the recommended child, adolescent, and adult immunization schedules.  www.cdc.gov/nip/recs/child-schedule.htm. www.cdc.gov/nip/recs/adult-schedule.htm.

 

If immunization records are not available:

Children aged <6 years of age should be forward vaccinated.

 

They should be treated as if they were up-to-date with recommended immunizations and given any doses that are recommended for their current age. 

 

This includes the following vaccines:

* This includes all children from 6-23 month and children up to age 10 with a high risk condition (MMWR 2005;54:749-750).

www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5434a4.htm

 

•Hepatitis A is not routinely recommended in all states; state immunization practice should be followed.

 

Children and adolescents (aged 11-18 years) should receive the following

recommended immunizations:

www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5434a4.htm

 

Adults (aged >18 years) should receive the following recommended

immunizations:

www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5434a4.htm

 

II.Crowded Group Settings

 

In addition to the vaccines given routinely as part of the child and adolescent schedules, the following vaccines should be given to displaced person living in crowded group settings:

 

Influenza

Everyone ≥6 months of age should receive influenza vaccine.

Children 8 years old or younger should receive 2 doses, at least one month apart.

 

Varicella

Everyone >12 months of age and born in the United States after 1965 should receive  one done of this vaccine unless they have a history of chickenpox.

 

MMR

Everyone >12 months of age and born after 1957 should receive one dose of this  vaccine.

 

Hepatitis A

Everyone >2 years of age should receive one dose of hepatitis A vaccine unless  they have a clear history of hepatitis A.

 

Immunocompromised individuals, such as HIV-infected persons, pregnant women, and those on systemic steroids, should not receive the live viral vaccines, varicella and MMR. 

Screening should be performed by self-report.

 

Documentation

It is critical that all vaccines administered be properly documented. Immunization records should be provided in accordance with the practice of the state in which the vaccine is administered. Immunization cards should be provided to individuals at the time of vaccination.

 

Standard immunization practices should be followed for delivery of all vaccines, including provision of Vaccine Information Statements.

 

Diarrheal diseases

 

Vaccination against typhoid and cholera are not recommended.

Both diseases are extremely rare in the Gulf States, and there is no vaccine against cholera licensed for use in the United States.

 

Rabies vaccine should only be used for post-exposure prophylaxis (e.g., after an animal bite or bat exposure) according to CDC guidelines.

 

*Influenza Tier 1 (MMWR 2005;54:749-750).

www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5434a4.htm

 

Tier 1 recommendations include the following priority groups:

 

•Persons ages >65 years with comorbid conditions

•Residents of long-term care facilities

•Persons aged 2-64 years with comorbid conditions 

•Persons >65 years without comorbid conditions

•Children aged 6-23 months
•Pregnant women 

•Healthcare personnel who provide direct patient care

•Household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children aged <6 months.

 

This document is also available online at

http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/katrina/vaccrecdisplaced.asp

 

  September 2, 2005
Interim Immunization Recommendations for Emergency Responders: Hurricane Katrina
Download PDF version formatted for print (83 KB/1 page)
Required immunizations:
  1. Tetanus and diphtheria toxoid (receipt of primary series, and Td booster within 10 years)

  2. Hepatitis B vaccine series for persons who will be performing direct patient care or otherwise expected to have contact with bodily fluids
There is no indication for the following vaccines given the anticipated conditions in the region: (back to the top of the page)


Department of Health and Social Services
September 4, 2005
Secretary Leavitt Taking Health, Social Services Resources to Evacuee Locations Throughout Gulf Region
Secretary Mike Leavitt is taking a team of health care, public health and social service leaders to Louisiana and the Gulf Region today as part of ongoing efforts to extend care and services to where evacuees of Hurricane Katrina are located.
Secretary Leavitt said the team would build upon existing state, local and federal efforts to provide for the immediate health care needs of evacuees by extending services for ongoing medical, mental health and social services needs as well as public health and disease prevention. HHS health care experts and medicines were pre-deployed to the region before the hurricane and subsequently delivered immediately following to augment the needs of FEMA and state and local health agencies.
Secretary Leavitt will be accompanied by the following HHS leaders: Dr. Julie Gerberding, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Dr. Richard Carmona, Surgeon General; Wade Horn, Assistant Secretary for Children and Families; Charles Curie, Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; Dr. Mark McClellan, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; Dr. Garth Graham, Director of Office of Minority Health. In addition to the HHS leadership team, the Secretary will be joined by Dr. William Winkenwerder, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs; General Joe Kelly of the Department of Defense; and Joe Becker of the American Red Cross.
“We’ve spent this important first week providing for the immediate health care needs of hurricane victims and the public health needs of the Gulf region, which will remain ongoing efforts. Now, we want to make sure the full reach of the federal government’s health and human services are being extended to every area where evacuees are being located,” Secretary Leavitt said. “We have a great deal of work to do to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina get back on their feet and begin recovering from this tragedy. We’re going to be where they are in order to help them every step of this journey.”
Over the next several days, the Secretary and his team will be going to evacuee locations throughout the Gulf Coast region, including Louisiana and Texas. At evacuee locations, the Secretary will make sure HHS resources are stood up or expanded where necessary to meet the ongoing needs of hurricane victims.

Today, the Secretary will be going to the following sites in Louisiana:

12:10 p.m. (Central Time)       New Orleans Airport
The team will be working with evacuation efforts at the airport, where medical facilities are in operation.

3:45 p.m. (Central Time)       Baton Rouge, Louisiana
The team will go to the Pete Maravich Assembly Center (Entrance) on the LSU Campus, where evacuees are located as well as health care facilities that HHS personnel are helping to staff and operate.

5 p.m. (Central Time)      
At approximately this time, Secretary Leavitt will hold a media availability at the Entrance to the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on the LSU Campus in Baton Rouge.
Please understand that times are approximate and may alter depending on the work needed to be done in these communities. HHS will keep media apprised of any significant time changes.
After Louisiana, the Secretary and team will be going to sites in Texas, including Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. More specific information will be forthcoming as locations and times are confirmed
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September 3, 2005
HHS Releases $27.25 Million in Emergency Energy Assistance To States Hit Hardest by Hurricane Katrina
WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 3, 2005 --- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Mike Leavitt today announced $27.25 million in emergency energy assistance to assist states hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina. This release of funds reflects initial requests from the affected states and their current ability to distribute the funds. Further releases are anticipated when additional information becomes available and the states' ability to distribute the funds effectively is increased.

"The suffering caused by Hurricane Katrina warrants the immediate response of all sectors of government," Secretary Leavitt said. "President Bush is releasing this emergency energy assistance to help children, families and communities throughout the Gulf region in their urgent time of need."

The funding, released to Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), can be used for a wide range of purposes, including transportation to shelters for individuals whose health is endangered by loss of access to cooling, utility reconnection costs, repair or replacement costs for furnaces and air conditioners, insulation repair as well as paying energy costs.

"This energy aid is being sent to help those in most need, particularly the disabled, the disadvantaged and the elderly," said Wade F. Horn, Ph.D., assistant secretary for children and families. "The Bush Administration is responding quickly with this energy assistance to help the people of the Gulf region in their recovery process."

Today's announcement uses emergency contingency funds which have been authorized by Congress, and are over and above $1.9 billion provided to states so far this season plus an additional $250 million in emergency assistance.


September 3, 2005
HHS Releases Website and Toll Free Number for Deployment  by Health Care Professionals

The Department of Health and Human Services has established a website (<https://volunteer.hhs.gov>) and toll-free number (1-866-KAT MEDI) to help identify health care professionals and relief personnel to assist in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

"The desire of America's health care professionals to use their skills to help Hurricane Katrina's victims has been inspiring, " Secretary Mike Leavitt said.  "This website and toll free number are important tools to become part of this network of goodness that is taking place."

Multidisciplinary healthcare professionals and relief personnel with expertise in the following areas are encouraged to visit the website and register to volunteer for appointment by HHS:
Administration/Finance Officers
Nursing Assistants/Nursing Support Technicians
Chaplain/Social Worker
Nursing Staff Directors
Clinical Physicians Patient
Transporters/Volunteers
Dentists Pharmacists
Dieticians Psychologists
Epidemiologists Physician's Assistants or
Nurse Practitioners
Environmental Health Physician Chiefs of Staff
Epidemiologists Respiratory Therapists
Facility Managers RNs
Housekeepers Safety Officers
IT/Communications Officers Security Officers
LPNs      
Social Workers
Medical Clerks Supply Managers
Mental Health Workers Veterinarians

Please be advised that individuals must be healthy enough to function under field conditions.  This may include all or some of the following:
12-hour shifts
Austere conditions (possibly no showers, housing in tents)
No air conditioning
Long periods of standing
Sleep accommodations on bedroll
Military ready to eat meals

These workers will be non-paid temporary Federal employees, and will therefore be eligible for coverage under the Federal Tort Claims Act for liability coverage and Workman's Compensation when functioning as HHS employees.  Although there will not be any salary, travel and per diem will
be paid.

Volunteers with no healthcare background can find information on volunteering USAFreedomCorps.gov or by calling 1-877-USA-CORPS.   

September 3, 2005
HHS Releases $27.25 Million in Emergency Energy Assistance To States Hit Hardest by Hurricane Katrina
WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 3, 2005 --- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Mike Leavitt today announced $27.25 million in emergency energy assistance to assist states hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina. This release of funds reflects initial requests from the affected states and their current ability to distribute the funds. Further releases are anticipated when additional information becomes available and the states' ability to distribute the funds effectively is increased.

"The suffering caused by Hurricane Katrina warrants the immediate response of all sectors of government," Secretary Leavitt said. "President Bush is releasing this emergency energy assistance to help children, families and communities throughout the Gulf region in their urgent time of need."

The funding, released to Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), can be used for a wide range of purposes, including transportation to shelters for individuals whose health is endangered by loss of access to cooling, utility reconnection costs, repair or replacement costs for furnaces and air conditioners, insulation repair as well as paying energy costs.

"This energy aid is being sent to help those in most need, particularly the disabled, the disadvantaged and the elderly," said Wade F. Horn, Ph.D., assistant secretary for children and families. "The Bush Administration is responding quickly with this energy assistance to help the people of the Gulf region in their recovery process."

Today's announcement uses emergency contingency funds which have been authorized by Congress, and are over and above $1.9 billion provided to states so far this season plus an additional $250 million in emergency assistance.

August 31, 2005 Health & Human Services
HHS DELIVERING MEDICAL CARE TO HELP EVACUEES AND VICTIMS

HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt today declared a federal public health emergency and accelerated efforts to create up to 40 emergency medical shelters to provide care for evacuees and victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Working with its federal partners, HHS is helping provide and staff 250 beds in each shelter for a total of 10,000 beds for the region.  Ten of these facilities will be staged within the next 72 hours and another 10 will be deployed within the next 100 hours after that.  In addition, HHS isdeploying up to 4,000 medically-qualified personnel to staff these facilities and to meet other health care needs in this region.

Already, HHS has helped set up a medical shelter with up to 250 beds at Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge to help provide health care for those fleeing New Orleans in Katrina's wake. As of late this morning, the facility had already screened 300 patients and admitting 45 for in-patient care.

HHS and its Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also are providing the region with public health personnel and expertise to address the potential for disease outbreak in the aftermath of Katrina.

"We're delivering medical supplies, facilities and professionals into the Gulf Region to provide health care to those evacuating from New Orleans as well as victims of the hurricane throughout the region," Secretary Leavitt said. "We're focused on the immediate health care needs of people in the region, augmenting state and local efforts. And we're also preparing for public health challenges that may emerge such as disease and contamination.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to all our fellow Americans who have been affected by this hurricane," Secretary Leavitt added.  "Recovery will take time, and the road ahead will not be easy. But all of us at the Department of Health and Human Services - with our health partners - will do everything we can for as long as it takes to help protect the health and well-being of those impacted."

An order was signed by the Secretary today to declare a public health emergency for the states of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. This action will allow the Department to waive certain Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP and HIPAA requirements as well as make grants and enter into contracts more expeditiously during this emergency.

Secretary Leavitt emphasized that HHS is making available all its public health and emergency response capabilities to help state and local officials provide care and assistance to victims of this hurricane.

"We all need to come together and help our neighbors in this time of need. We are asking Americans to help spread the word to both neighbors and strangers about public health warnings or directives from emergency response officials so we can reach as many people as possible.  Together, we will get through this and help the people of the Gulf region rebuild their lives and their communities," Secretary Leavitt added.

To date, the Department has taken the following steps to address this emergency:

HHS has delivered to Louisiana 27 pallets of medical supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile. 
These pallets include basic first-aid material (such as bandages, pads, ice packs, etc.), blankets and patient clothing, suture kits, sterile gloves, stethoscopes, blood pressure measuring kits and portable oxygen tanks. These supplies are primarily being used to set up the medical shelter at LSU in Baton Rouge.

More medical supplies will be shipped into Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi as needed to meet any growing demands for health care equipment and supplies.

HHS has identified available hospital beds and provided health care professional

HHS is using the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) to identify available hospital beds. HHS is working with DOD, the Veterans Administration and others to move patients to these facilities. At last count, there were 2,600 beds available in a 12-state area around the affected area. Nationwide, the NDMS has identified 40,000 available beds in participating hospitals.

Right now, 38 US Public Health Service officers are in the region providing health care and assistance, particularly at the Baton Rouge facility.  HHS has hundreds of additional public health and medical officers ready for deployment in a moment's notice to further meet any growing needs of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

The Department is reaching out to neighboring states, such as Texas, that are providing refuge for those evacuating the Gulf Region to make sure their needs are being met through any resources HHS can provide.

HHS has public health experts working with states in the Gulf Region to help assess threats to public health and develop pro-active responses to prevent the spread of disease and illness.

The full resources and expertise of CDC and FDA are available to augment state and local public health resources - including chemical and toxicology teams, sanitation and public health teams, epidemiology teams and food safety teams.

CDC experts are now working with Louisiana officials to implement a mosquito abatement program that will help prevent or mitigate an outbreak of West Nile Virus.

Department agencies are helping states evaluate their sanitation and water systems.

Epidemiology teams, known as disease detectives, are reaching out to state and local officials to augment efforts to monitor potential outbreaks of disease or illness.

Public health messages (PSAs) warning about the safe consumption of food and water are being disseminated. HHS is issuing strong warnings to the public to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning from the use of generators.

HHS is making mental health resources available to the region through its Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Blood supplies and inventory levels in the affected Gulf Coast states meeting current medical needs.  The need for blood will be ongoing, especially over the next few weeks, as disaster victims require additional care, as deferred elective surgeries are rescheduled or if there should be any further emergencies.  In order to maintain a healthy and adequate blood supply level, people who would like to help should call their blood banks to schedule an appointment.
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