Peace Corps Monitoring Swine Flu in Mexico

April 28, 2009

Agency responding proactively to ensure Volunteers' good health

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 28, 2009 - Peace Corps continues its efforts to ensure the safety of its volunteers serving in Mexico and worldwide following the swine flu outbreak in Mexico and elsewhere this past week. Acting Director Jody K. Olsen confirmed that all 57 Volunteers and trainees serving in Mexico have been contacted and advised of the situation and the precautions they should take. Volunteers are well and remain unaffected by the outbreak.

Said Olsen, "The health and wellness of our Volunteers is of prime importance to Peace Corps. In response to the swine flu outbreak in Mexico, Peace Corps issued an alert to all Volunteers with guidance about how to deal specifically with the influenza outbreak in Mexico. The response plan provides for dissemination of timely information to Volunteers and staff, and includes precautions that should be taken by those at risk. Peace Corps continues to work with U.S. and Mexican health officials to monitor the situation and will make decisions based upon the evolving situation to ensure our Volunteers' safety."

As part of its agency-wide response to emergency situations, Peace Corps has developed plans to respond to an influenza outbreak and has anti-viral medications available which are effective in treating this particular flu strain. Peace Corps staff in Washington, including a full-time epidemiologist, is also currently working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control, and the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City to closely and continuously monitor the situation and take action as needed.

Moreover, each Peace Corps program has an Emergency Action Plan specific to that country and developed in cooperation with Peace Corps Washington and the local U.S. Embassy. The plans are evaluated and tested frequently and information is updated constantly. Volunteers are thoroughly trained in their roles and responsibilities, and posts are prepared for all emergencies.

No Volunteers are serving in Mexico City, the current epicenter of the swine flu outbreak.

Families may contact the Peace Corps/Mexico Desk with any questions or concerns they may have at 1-800-424-8580, Extension 2520 during business hours, and the Office of Special Services after hours. The Office of Special Services maintains a 24-hour, 7 days a week duty system. The telephone number during standard office hours is 1-800-424-8580, Extension 1470; the after hours number is 202-692-1470. The Office of Special Services can also be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].

Over 90 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Mexico since the program was established in 2004. This program is a unique partnership that provides an opportunity for Peace Corps to recruit highly specialized, technically trained, and experienced Volunteers to work side-by-side with Mexican counterparts. Volunteers collaborate with Mexico's National Council for Science and Technology, as well as the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources, on a variety of specialized projects. Currently, 57 Volunteers are serving in Mexico.

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