Health & Safety

Prevention, Self-Protection and Patient Education for Zika Virus

CDC logoNurses have an important role in containing this fast moving disease. Combine what we already know about standard precautions regarding blood borne pathogens, body-fluid contact, and lessons learned by scout leaders or naturalists about insect bites. Prevention remains at the top of the list of prudent measures to protect nurses and the patients they care for from spreading this viral disease.

Outside the medical facility, educating the public about Zika’s transmission vectors and along with education about safe sex practices also helps manage the risk of contracting and/or unknowingly contributing to its rapid spread.

Whether it’s Zika or any other pathogen, conventional wisdom and common sense guidelines can provide a means of prevention, containment and eradication.

Nurses have unique, often privileged access to their patients’ attention and confidence. Leverage the safe-space for candid discussion to suggest the following from the CDC:

  • No vaccine exists to prevent Zika.
  • Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus bite mostly during the daytime
  • Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus also spread dengue and chikungunya viruses
  • Zika can be passed through sex from a person who has Zika to his or her sex partners. Condoms (and other barriers to protect against infection) can reduce the chance of getting Zika from sex
  • Local mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission has been reported in two areas of Miami. Learn more



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Nurse Training Update – Infectious Disease

For SEIU Nurse Alliance of California: Infectious Disease Update from Mark Catlin

“Fever is a major symptom in the WHO Ebola case definition, and thermometers have been used widely by healthcare workers and government officials to screen for EVD cases among persons in hospitals, shops, and airports and at road check points. However, as many as a third of the patients at the Moyamba ETC had no fever at admission. Several other reports have also noted the lack of fever among EVD patients, and there are indications that fever has been present in fewer EVD patients during the 2013–2016 West Africa outbreak compared with previous outbreaks. Most patients (61%) referred to the Moyamba ETC had negative Ebola PCR results, indicating that the WHO case definition is not sufficiently specific in identifying EVD.” – M. Catlin

BOTTOM LINE: While the article abstract describes some facts, figures, and links, the important take away for nurses is a call for vigilance when reviewing charts, handling patients upon intake, especially those who have traveled outside the US to known at-risk regions of the world.

A Source Article Abstract: “The 2013–2016 outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in West Africa infected >28,000 people, including >11,000 who died, and disrupted social life in the region. We retrospectively studied clinical signs and symptoms and risk factors for fatal outcome among 31 Ebola virus–positive patients admitted to the Ebola Treatment Center in Moyamba District, Sierra Leone. We found a higher rate of bleeding manifestations than reported elsewhere during the outbreak. Significant predictors for death were shorter time from symptom onset to admission, male sex, high viral load on initial laboratory testing, severe pain, diarrhea, bloody feces, and development of other bleeding manifestations during hospitalization. These risk factors for death could be used to identify patients in need of more intensive medical support. The lack of fever in as many as one third of EVD cases may have implications for temperature-screening practices and case definitions.” (SOURCE: )

Figure1_Infectious Disease

Figure 1. Survival analysis for patients with confirmed Ebola virus disease admitted to the treatment center in Moyamba District, Sierra Leone, December 19, 2014–February 17, 2015. Survival among A) all patients; B) male and female patients; C) patients with and without bleeding manifestations at admission; and D) patients with initial PCR results showing high- and low-level viremia, as defined by cycle thresholds of <22 and >22, respectively.

Figure2_Infectious Disease

Figure 2. Ebola viral load for patients with confirmed Ebola virus disease admitted to the treatment center in Moyamba District, Sierra Leone, December 19, 2014–February 17, 2015. Viral loads were determined by semiquantitative PCR and are expressed as cycle thresholds for patients with fatal (n = 18) and nonfatal (n = 13) disease. (SOURCE: )

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SEIU, Flint Michigan, and YOU: Nurses in action to protect ourselves and our communities

It’s not an “over there” or “effecting them” issue; in fact, many communities are suffering at the hands of negligent leadership with respect to their drinking water.  The people of Flint are fighting for their health and for their communities, but most importantly, they are setting the stage for a national discussion on holding those we have elected to protect our infrastructure accountable, locally and nationally. Click here for a short presentation with helpful links to signs and symptoms you can look for in your day to day work (and home) environment.

The following summarizes some of the key points:

  • The timeline link shows the Flint drama unfolding from April 2014, when the water source was switched up through January of this year when the state of emergency was declared and the media coverage expanded from local, to regional and eventually to national coverage.
  • With the additional pressure by a vocal public, demanding awareness and scrutiny, a suspiciously corresponding outbreak of Legionaire’s Disease in the same region has been brought to light.
  • Mayo clinic has provided a guideline for signs and symptoms which you may leverage to say informed and vigilant.

FlintLivesMatterSo, what can we do about it as Nurses?

1/ Stay informed – Did you know that the National Patient Safety Foundation declared the week of March 13 – 19th as “National Patient Safety Week”, their website at has an informative blog containing news, and discussion pertaining to patient and community safety.

2/ Join the fight – This isn’t just about Flint. The Nurse Alliance of California wants you to know and be prepared for additional discoveries about local issues arising from leaders who are deliberately or ignorantly “asleep at the wheel”. Remember the Exide incident? The Natural Resources Defense Council (NDRC) has posted advice on preventing lead poisoning in children.


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2016 Legislative Conference in Sacramento: RNs Leading the Way to Healthier Communities

2016 Leg Conf Venn Graphic

We’re thrilled to announce the 2016 Legislative Conference, Nurses Leading the Way to Healthier Communities,  Come join us during the first week of May at the State Capitol! This year we’re featuring more of the hard-hitting career affirming presentations which today’s nurses have come to know and love. Extending the tradition of timely,  relevant, and lively discussion about Economic Disparity, Environmental Influence and Political Power. Come join us and add your voice to the growing team of nurses who shape the future!

When: Tuesday May 3 & Wednesday May 4, 2016
Where: The Citizen Hotel
Address: 926 J Street, Sacramento, California 95814
Total Contact Hours: 10.0 Free CEU’s
Registration: Registration Starts at 08:00.

Please let your SEIU Local know that you’d like to attend

Some of the topics include: As a nurse, you have environmental influence! This section covers: Infectious diseases on our horizon, Pollution in Our Own Back Yard, and our Prescription Drug Epidemic. You understand economic disparity segment includes: Social Advocacy & Race Relations, Staying Active and Informed, and the reality of Health Care Disparity in our society. You are empowered to bring change through political awareness: How to affect legislative changes for the greater good of your fellow nurses, Leverage protections offered through Cal/OSHA while preventing retaliation, and perhaps most importantly, how to become an advocate for better patient care, especially in communities where health care disparities are most distinct.

All SEIU nurses are welcome. If you are within driving distance, please consider carpooling, or planning a road trip with friends.  The cost of shared gas and roommate lodging could cost the same amount as paying to take a 10 CEU class.  Since this 2 day conference is free and meals are included, it is well worth the investment!

Secure your spot now by clicking the button below and help strengthen our voice in the Capitol.


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