Influenza And Infection Control

The flu (influenza) is probably the most commonly known infection in communities today. The symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. You may have some or all of these symptoms. Children and adults can get the flu. The flu is highly contagious. The flu is spread from one person to the next through coughs and sneezes.

Washing your hands before eating and receiving the flu vaccination are probably the two most important things you can do to help prevent the spread of the flu infection. Especially healthcare providers and staff, those who work in childcare settings, and the elderly should all receive vaccinations.

The flu vaccine is recommended for children aged 6 months and until their 5th birthday. It is also recommended for people who care for children aged birth through 5 years of age. Infants who are less than 6 months of age are at high risk to receive the flu but cannot take the vaccine. The best way to protect infants younger than 6 months is to vaccinate all who can be vaccinated around them and to have everyone wash their hands often. Persons of any age who have medical conditions that put them at risk for serious consequences of the flu should be given the vaccine.

Hand washing procedures:

The best procedures to help reduce the risk of passing along influenza germs are to encourage the use of soap and water by providing ample supplies of soap at each sink.

Hands should be washed before eating and when they are soiled.

Hands should also be washed after doing tasks such as changing diapers or preparing food. It is also a good idea to wash hands when coming in from outside or when coming up from the basement and also when coming home from activities where there were crowds of people (store, bank, sporting event). Situations where you are exposed to others are times when you are more likely to touch surfaces that were touched by others or exposed to influenza germs.

Make certain that children and adults wash their hands long enough by using the “Happy Birthday Song” twice (15 – 20 seconds).

Use alcohol-based rubs on hands (except for infants), when they are not soiled and when soap and water are not available. Rub hands thoroughly until the alcohol is dried. Keep alcohol-based rubs out of the reach of children and supervise them when they are using them.

Bathrooms should be stocked with paper towels or hand dryers and plenty of soap and water.

Rooms used for diaper changing or for childcare should be supplied with alcohol-based hand rubs. Make sure that if your hands are actually soiled that soap and water are used to wash them.