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American Association of Poison Control Centers: Count U.S. Poison Centers Among First Responders in H1N1 Flu Pandemic

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Oct. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The same reassuring voice on the telephone line when you fear you've had a poison emergency may be the same person answering your questions about the H1N1 flu pandemic.

The nation's 60 poison centers are among the first responders helping America respond to H1N1, with states putting their poison centers to work in a variety of ways.

A few examples:

  • Florida's three poison control centers have been assisting the Florida Department of Health by answering the state's H1N1 hotline for health care providers since Oct. 1. The state's health department, meanwhile, runs a separate hotline for the public. On Oct. 15th, Florida's poison centers expanded to 24-hour service for the health care practitioner's hotline and also began accepting calls from the public about adverse reactions to the H1N1 vaccine. The state's H1N1 hotline automatically forwards all health care practitioner calls and adverse vaccine reaction calls to Florida's poison centers.
  • A Tennessee Department of Health H1N1 hotline staffed by the Tennessee Poison Center fields about 150 calls per day, with fewer calls on the weekend. That hotline, which the poison center started staffing Sept. 15, takes calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but most calls come during business hours. The H1N1 hotline, which has its own toll free number, is available to the public, health care providers and local health departments.
  • The Kentucky Regional Poison Center has been running an H1N1 hotline for about three weeks. In the beginning, poison center staff fielded about 600 calls a day - one day they took 800 calls - but now they're receiving about 200 to 240 a day.
  • The Central Texas Poison Center as well as the five other poison centers that make up the Texas Poison Center Network are currently monitoring calls related to adverse reactions to the H1N1 vaccine. The Texas centers are sharing information about any reactions to the vaccine with the Texas Department of State Health Services. With the help of their colleagues in El Paso at the West Texas Regional Poison Center as well as other Spanish- speaking specialists in the state, the Texas Poison Center Network provides all of their services in both English and Spanish.
  • The Northern New England Poison Center has been helping field calls about the virus after hours to support the state health department. That center is also helping manage Maine's antiviral and personal protective equipment stockpiles.
  • The Illinois Poison Center became the latest poison center to start fielding H1N1 calls, partnering with the Illinois Department of Public Health to staff the state hotline beginning Tuesday, Oct. 27.

"Poison centers are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week with medical professionals who are ready to serve the health care needs of individuals seeking assistance," said Jim Hirt, executive director of the American Association of Poison Control Centers. "It's a natural fit for already-established poison centers and their infrastructure to answer calls from concerned citizens in this fight against the H1N1 flu pandemic."

The American Association of Poison Control Centers supports the nation's poison control centers in their efforts to prevent poisoning. Poison centers offer free and confidential services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

For questions about potential poisons, call your local poison control center at 1 (800) 222-1222.

SOURCE American Association of Poison Control Centers

SOURCE American Association of Poison Control Centers
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