. Preparing for Zika and Other Threats | Meetings & Conventions

Preparing for Zika and Other Threats

How to develop and implement an action plan for meetings

Follow through
 Stock protective items, such as gloves and masks, and be sure on-site staff is trained to use them.

 Regularly review all plans to reflect changes in the health threat, changes in venue or location, and personnel.

 Test plans regularly to ensure all participants understand their responsibilities.

 Encourage staff and attendees to practice prevention measures at home and during travel.

The following checklist was prepared by Chris Pardee, manager of health intelligence at iJET International, based in Annapolis, Md.

 Develop effective communication techniques to reduce attendee anxiety by explaining the threat of Zika virus at your location. Use simple but accurate language.

 Post easily digestible risk and prevention messages in high-traffic areas to maximize visibility. Consider providing print and/or electronic handouts to attendees as they enroll or register at the venue.

 Ensure that attendees have ready access to simple protective measures, such as insect repellent (both with and without DEET), as necessary or as requested.

 Ensure that your venue is sealed against mosquitoes. If applicable, cover doors and windows with insect screens, ensure that these screens are intact and make sure that screened doors remain closed at all times.

 Routinely sweep indoor and outdoor locations for mosquitoes, and spray insecticide to reduce active mosquitoes. Use only regulated products to ensure they are safe and effective.

 Reduce breeding habitats by removing standing water in rain gutters, old tires, buckets, plastic covers or other containers.

 Empty and change the water in bird baths, fountains, wading pools, rain barrels and potted plants at least once per week.

 Drain temporary pools of water or fill them with dirt.

 Ensure that swimming pool water is treated and circulating.

 Treat other large water sources (especially those that cannot be completely drained and refreshed) with products designed to kill mosquito larvae. Use only regulated products to ensure they are safe and effective.

 Ensure that security officers, medical officers or other relevant stakeholders remain aware of current health threats that could impact your event.

 Remember that even outbreaks in other countries could potentially affect your event via international air travel, and realize that many diseases have lengthy incubation periods (for Zika, it is estimated to be 2-7 days).

 Identify trusted sources of information that can provide timely and accurate assessments of health threats.

 Develop contacts among biosurveillance, public health and emergency response/hospital communities to whom you can turn for informational or logistical support.

 Develop a comprehensive plan to respond to a variety of public-health challenges of different severity. High-profile or recurring threats, such as Zika virus or influenza, may warrant dedicated preparedness plans.

 Work with local, state, and national authorities to integrate your plans into wider preparedness and response plans. Be sure staff leaders understand reporting obligations.

 Forge partnerships with hospitals and other medical facilties near your event. Make sure you understand the specializations or emergency capabilities of these facilities in order to send injured or sick individuals to the most qualified center.  

 Ensure that all staff have ready access to necessary supplies or equipment, such as cleaning supplies, to deal with potential health incidents during an event.

 Note that bleach generally is sufficient to disinfect most common health threats.