Wash your hands with soap often. Keep a gel dispenser next to the sign-in pen at reception for patients to use before and after signing forms.

Wear gloves if youll be making contact with a patients eyes or face.

Cover your coughs and sneezes.

Supply surgical masks to staff members who see possibly symptomatic patients; likewise, offer masks to patients who would be more comfortable with them or who are sick and present with an ocular emergency.

Wear eye protection if youre working close to an infected patient. This virus is not known to be airborne, but it likely spreads through large-particle respiratory droplets, so an infection could occur via breath onto the conjunctiva.

Used diluted bleach to clean working surfaces in the office.

Make sure that staff members do not come to work if they have signs of the H1N1 flu or if they have a fever.

Check the Web sites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and your local health department for updates and alerts.

To report suspected cases, contact your state public health department.

Go to www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu for resources and updates, or www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/identifyingpatients.htm for guidelines on patient screening.

Source: E. Robert Bertolli, O.D., is in the Medical Reserve Corps of the East Shore Health District and on the Executive Advisory Board for the American Board for Certification in Homeland Security. D. Robert Pannone, O.D., is also a member of the American Board for Certification in Homeland Security.

Vol. No: 146:05Issue: 5/15/2009