RICHMOND, Ky. — While healthcare management personnel grapple with their responses should the H1N1 (swine) flu impact their facilities, it’s business as usual for laundry directors and managers, according to the Association for Linen Management (ALM).
“There is little to no evidence that linens and textiles can serve as effective transmitters of influenza, even seasonal influenza,” Dr. Lynne Sehulster, Prevention and Response Branch of the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is quoted as saying in a recent e-mail blast to ALM members.
Novel influenza A (H1N1) is a new flu virus of swine origin that was first detected in April, according to the CDC.
The disease appeared first in Mexico, but has spread to other countries and continents, including the United States, triggering fears of a pandemic. There have been 5,469 cases in the States as of May 20, including six fatalities.
It’s thought that it spreads in the same way that regular seasonal flu viruses spread; mainly through the coughs and sneezes of people who are sick with the virus.
Basic laundry and linen-handling principles still apply in this swine flu event, according to ALM:
- Minimize agitation of laundry during collection and bagging.
- Follow routine laundering; no additional measures to current practice are required.
- It’s not necessary to segregate textiles from ill individuals from those of the healthy.
- Continue good handwashing and/or hand hygiene practices.
- Continue to utilize the appropriate personal protective equipment as typical.
More than 70% of respondents to this month’s American Laundry News Wire survey believe the United States is overreacting to the flu scare. Roughly 27% reported making laundry operation changes, offering additional staff training, or taking other action due to the outbreak.
There have been no reported cases of H1N1 flu found in U.S. hotels, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) states on its Web site. The CDC reports it has never identified, seen, or classified any significant disease outbreak in hotel or motel rooms as a result of a hotel’s bedspreads and blankets, AH&LA says.
The association “is urging the industry to ensure a high level of sanitation at all times in order to minimize the possible outbreak or spread of infection,” it says in an official statement.
“AH&LA encourages hoteliers to stay informed and to develop strategies and precautionary measures to protect the health and safety of employees and guests. As during previous health scares, it’s important to ‘be prepared, but not panicked.’”