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Aggressive Infection Control Program Protects Cancer Patients from Acquiring Clinic-Based H1N1 Influenza
Date:12/18/2009

SEATTLE, Dec. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Despite a 100-fold increase in H1N1 influenza cases in the Seattle area during spring 2009, an aggressive infection control program to protect immunocompromised cancer patients and thorough screening measures resulted in no corresponding increase in H1N1 cases among the total patient population at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, according to a new study by researchers and physicians at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the SCCA.

The findings appear in this week's online version of the journal Blood. In the paper, authors Corey Casper, M.D., Janet Englund, M.D. and Michael Boeckh, M.D., detail how patients with blood cancers are screened, diagnosed and treated for H1N1 infections and then how the SCCA's infection control program led to successful suppression of a potentially serious pandemic among clinic patients and staff.

"Our experience shows that aggressive infection control procedures can minimize transmission within the immunocompromised patient population and also reduce acquisition from sources outside the system," the authors concluded.

The SCCA's infection control program is unique in that it is devoted entirely to outpatient infection control among cancer patients, according to Casper, a researcher in the Hutchinson Center's Vaccine and Infectious Disease Institute and medical director of the SCCA's infection control program.

"Lessons learned here are important ones because the majority of cancer care is provided in an outpatient setting," Casper said. "Outpatient cancer care poses more challenges when it comes to protecting patient health because the environment is less controlled than that of a hospital."

The SCCA infection control program follows recommendations set forth by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The cornerstone of the program, which begins Oct. 1 and runs through April 30 each year, is early identif
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SOURCE Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
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