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Meeting Summary

Communicable Disease Preparedness Committee
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February 12, 2008

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Meeting Summary

Members Present: Anne Hubbell, Katrina Doolittle, Jose Gamon, Sue Smiley (for T.Burgin), Michael Abernethy, John Balog, Manuela Quezada-Aragon, Angela Arvizo, Nancy Baptiste,  Lorin Gobble, Mary Jaspers, Larry Olsen, Stephanie Roybal,  Mike O’Larey, Hugo Vilchis, Larry Dominguez (for J. Witte), Donna Alden (for C. Gonzales), Hugo Vilchis, Stephen Lopez, Amy Collins (for D. Pearse)

Members Absent:  Lori McKee, Teresa Brobeck, UComm, Leigh DeRoos, Angela Throneberry, Joe Palmer, Karl Hill, Esperanza Villanueva Joyce, Benjamin Diven, Ruben Torrez, Julie Weber, R. Yoder.

The meeting began at 3:07 PM.

1.      K. Doolittle thanked members for their efforts.  She noted that Human Resources and Purchasing and Risk Management have submitted their COOPs.  She asked M. Abernethy to also send electronic version. She also noted that Rene Yoder had scheduling conflict but submitted three draft HR policies for CDPC review.

2.      J. Balog summarized proceedings of the Training and Education Work Group (T&E work group) meeting of January 23 which is detailed here and the “tip sheet”  was distributed.  

a.       M. O'Larey shared the athletic department experience on preventing and responding to staph infections (MRSA) among student athletes.  A major issue is the expense related to single-use towels (both laundered and disposable) and chemical disinfection of therapeutic baths (hot tubs, whirlpools, showers) and exam tables.  He briefly noted several outbreaks at NCAA institutions; including a fatality and that NMSU has not experienced an outbreak in the past year or so.

b.      T. Burgin informed the group that she has instituted a keyboard disinfection program in multi-user computer labs throughout campus.  The lab aides spray and wipe soiled keyboards as needed and all keyboards are wiped weekly.  K. Doolittle suggested this concept could be advertised to the greater campus.

c.       We then discussed several research articles implicating contaminated work surfaces (primarily computer keyboards and door knobs) as a mode of disease transmission in the workplace. 

d.      It was decided that we should develop a "tip sheet" on hand washing and work surface disinfection for use by offices and departments to remind personnel how to reduce their exposure to germs in the workplace.   

3.      The work group generated a flyer encouraging personnel to practice proper hand washing and disinfection of work surfaces, computer keyboards, and door knobs.  The flyer is attached and available for downloading on the EH&S website on the Safety newsblog (http://www.nmsu.edu/~safety/index.htm) under the Communicable Disease Preparedness tab(link-pdf) (link-rtf).  We recommend the flyer be posted in restrooms, and multiuser computer work areas throughout NMSU. 

4.      The T&E work group agreed to recommend to the full CDPC to encourage departments to provide work areas with alcohol-based hand sanitizers (60% to 90% ethanol by weight) and disinfecting wipes containing an EPA-registered anti-microbial compound per CDC guidance.  

5.      K. Doolittle remarked that absenteeism during the current outbreak of flu and respiratory illness has revealed a need to amend and revise the EH&S COOP.  She suggested that everyone should probably review the performance of their respective plans in terms of the current flu season, and annually at least to update personnel information. 

6.      Other work groups:  L. McKee continues to receive lists of consumables.

7.      K. Doolittle distributed the following three HR policy drafts for review.  Comments should be prepared for discussion at the next meeting with Rene Yoder present.

a.       State of Emergency

b.      Social Distancing

c.       Telecommuting 

8.      K. Doolittle said J. Witte of NMDA emailed that he still plans to do a table top exercise this spring using an animal disease outbreak to test the local response plans.

9.      K. Doolittle asked for comments on the Dept Head Awareness presentation distributed to membership last fall and suggestions on getting the faculty involved.  A. Hubble said that Department Head meetings or an invitation through the Deans would be most effective, especially if food was provided.

10.  H. Vilchis remarked that flu season is upon us, and expects a high degree of circulation in New Mexico to result in many cases.  He noted the email on the crush of patients seeking medical attention at the University and Student Health Centers respectively. 

11.  K. Doolittle suggested a student representative be added to the CDPC membership and A. Arvizo offered to speak with ASNMSU president for recommendation.

12.  L. Dominguez commented on the heightened concern with disease outbreaks related to imported food, explaining that antibiotic use may be a prime cause of some adverse health effects experienced by consumers.  He also explained that only product imported for re-sale is required to be labeled with the country of origin, and not if it is to be processed by the importer.

13.  L. Dominguez responded to question on monitoring and stated that since the Rio Grande corridor that runs through Las Cruces is a fly-way for migratory birds, the USDA and NMDA have been sampling and testing for avian influenza virus.  To date there have been two findings of note; in September of 2007, an H5 avian influenza virus was identified, and in November of 2007 a local isolate was  presumptively identified as H5N1 but upon subsequent confirmatory testing revealed the isolate to indeed be an H5N1 strain but  was of the low-pathogenic variety.  He surmised that presently there are no major concerns and due to the enhanced surveillance along fly-ways that the community would be informed if or when a strain of highly-pathogenic avian influenza is isolated in North America.    

14.  S. Smiley asked about reporting procedures when inappropriate food handling is observed at one of the NMSU managed food service areas. In follow-up phone conversation, A. Throneberry stated that the details of the incident should be reported to Auxillary Services and they will conduct a review of the vendor and keep records on each occurrance.  Repeat incidences of improper food handling will be a consideration in contract re-negotiations. 

Provided a representative from Human Resources will be available to discuss draft policies, the next CDPC meeting will be March 11, 2008 at 3:00 PM in ARC room 110.       

The meeting adjourned at 3:52PM.

The following is an early release from the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Rate weekly (MMWR).


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