Influenza and You 2013
Per CDC Kentucky is now Widespread Influenza: Outbreaks of influenza or increases in ILI cases and recent laboratory-confirmed influenza in at least half the regions of the state with recent laboratory evidence of influenza in the state.
The facility leadership in consultation with the Hospital Epidemiologist has implemented additional prevention interventions based on community and facility influenza prevalence or influenza outbreak that includes:
- Mandatory masks to be worn by all healthcare providers not immunized when performing patient care activities.
- See Influenza Prevention Program: Immunization of Health Care Personnel IC-3.31 for additional information.
What is flu?
Influenza (flu) is a respiratory disease caused by type A influenza virus (H1N1 or H3N2) or type B influenza virus. Flu viruses have been reported to spread from person-to-person through droplets produced while coughing or sneezing.
What are the signs and symptoms of flu in people?
The symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with H1N1 flu. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with flu infection in people. Flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.
If you are a healthcare provider
If you have a fever (100 degrees F or greater) and cough, sore throat, running nose, malaise, headache, vomiting diarrhea or sign/symptoms of influenza please contact your manager prior to reporting to work.
How does flu spread?
Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
How can someone with the flu infect someone else?
Infected people may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 7 or more days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods.
If you are a healthcare provider
Get your influenza immunization free of charge through employee health. Wear your PPE to include eye protection and face mask with every patient who may have signs and symptoms related to influenza or respiratory illness. Complete frequent hand hygiene. If you are performing respiratory secretion generating procedures (such as bronchoscopy, intubation) wear your N-95 mask.
Are there medicines to treat flu?
Yes. If you get sick, antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For treatment, antiviral drugs work best if started soon after getting sick (within 2 days of symptoms).
How long can viruses live outside the body?
We know that some viruses and bacteria can live 2 hours or longer on surfaces like cafeteria tables, doorknobs, and desks.
What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?
There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Take these everyday steps to protect your health:
- Practice Cough Etiquette: Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- If no tissue available, cough or sneeze into the bend of your arm
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people (wear PPE if in healthcare settings)
- Frequently clean the environment to reduce the chance of getting contamination from these common surfaces such as door knobs, bed rails, computer key boards, etc.
- If you get sick with influenza, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
What should I do if I get sick?
If you are worried about your symptoms you may want to contact your health care provider who will determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed. If you experience any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care.
In children emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention can include:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
- Fever with a rash
In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention can include:
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
Severe or persistent vomiting
Please contact Employee Health: Natalie Hickam, Janice Martin or Annette Calvert or Infection Preventionists: Wendy Kaelin or Dana Stephens
Your local Public Health Department can also answer your questions.