Out-of-hospital screen for assessing the severity of influenza among adults exhibiting flu-like symptoms.
- Redirects symptomatic individuals from hospitals and doctors’ offices.
- Amenable for use online, over the phone, or in person.
Each year the influenza virus infects up to 15 million people in the US and leads to an estimated 500,000 deaths worldwide. In 2009, a new strain of the virus appeared known as H1N1 or swine flu. Since then, it has infected approximately 43 to 89 million people in the US and led to approximately 13,000 deaths. One of the largest problems arising from such a pandemic illness is overload of the healthcare system. This overload contributes to increased contact with infected persons and thus facilitates virus transmission. A method to manage the anxiety and questions of an ailing population appropriately while still providing healthcare services efficiently is needed. Unfortunately, current disease assessment protocols for influenza are not able to address these issues.
Pandemic influenza involves an epidemic of the influenza virus which affects a significant number of the population. Pandemics arise due to the manifestation of a new strain of the virus in humans, which typically occurs when influenza is transmitted from an animal species, most commonly pigs, chickens, or ducks, to humans. These mutant strains remain unaffected by any influenza immunity that may have accumulated, allowing the virus to spread exponentially among the human population.
The SORT influenza assessment protocol allows for the mass screening of individuals exhibiting flu-like symptoms in a non-hospital setting. The screen relies on the CDC-developed CRB-65 risk stratification tool, a well-validated technique that includes assessment of the severity and potential risk of death due to a community acquired illness as well as a brief review of factors related to co-morbidity. A second, simplified version allows for the screen to be rapidly administered via a third party interview (i.e. online or over the phone) by non-medically trained individuals. The risk assessment screening tool developed at Emory University allows for effective screening of large numbers of individuals, while alleviating the surge of visits to a hospital or doctors’ office and lessening interactions with infected individuals within these settings.
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Successfully used at Emory University during the H1N1 influenza pandemic.