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DebMed Blog: Healthcare Hygiene Matters

Visiting a Hospitalized Patient This Flu Season? Here’s What You Need to Know Before You Go

Posted by DebMed on Feb 15, 2018 2:27:04 PM

According to recent reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for the first time in its history of reporting, the US is experiencing widespread flu activity in every part of the continental U.S.

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Topics: 5 Moments, flu season, Influenza, hand hygiene education, Canadian 4 Moments

Hand Hygiene in the Spotlight as Flu Now Widespread in 46 States

Posted by DebMed on Jan 9, 2018 12:36:00 PM

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Health Alert Network advisory (HAN) as influenza activity increased sharply the latter part of December, according to CDC Weekly FluView. The predominant subtype reported since the season began in October is H3N2, and while the mortality rate currently remains below epidemic levels, 13 pediatric deaths have been attributed to influenza this season.

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Topics: hand hygiene, Flu

Hi-Tech Hand Wash: Electronic Hand Hygiene Systems Bring the Newest Technology to an Age-Old Problem

Posted by Allison Pearsall on Jan 4, 2018 10:02:00 AM

As advancing technology continues its inexorable expansion into virtually every area of healthcare with promise of improved efficiency and outcomes, today’s electronic hand hygiene monitoring systems are equipping hospital managers with critical data that is helping them drive significantly improved hand hygiene compliance and significant decreases in health care-associated infections.  A recent article published in Health Facilities Management described the marked shift taking place toward electronic monitoring systems  because of their ability to capture up to 100 percent of hand hygiene events and deliver the valid, reliable data needed for lasting staff performance improvement.

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Topics: hand hygiene compliance monitoring, hand hygiene compliance

Sharp Up-Tick in Flu Cases Prompts CDC Alert

Posted by DebMed on Jan 3, 2018 12:12:59 PM

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Health Alert Network advisory to remind clinicians to be on the lookout as flu cases are rapidly increasing nationally. The HAN alert also calls for all hospitalized and high-risk influenza patients be treated ASAP with a neuraminidase inhibitor antiviral.

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Topics: Flu

The Top 10 Things Infection Preventionists Want For The Holidays

Posted by DebMed on Dec 27, 2017 6:00:00 AM

We hope that all of your infection prevention wishes come true! Happy holidays to you and yours from your friends at DebMed.

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Topics: infection prevention, holidays, flu season

New Joint Commission hand hygiene requirements… Are you ready?

Posted by Allison Pearsall on Dec 21, 2017 12:14:34 PM
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Topics: electronic monitoring, hand hygiene compliance, Joint Commission

4 Ways To Give Flu The Cold Shoulder This Winter

Posted by DebMed on Nov 30, 2017 7:00:00 AM

Winter is just around the corner – and with it comes flu season, meaning potential bad news for healthcare facilities. Minor illnesses are already a major staffing issue for hospitals – they cause an annual average loss of 4.3 working days per person[1] – and they are especially problematic at a time of year when admissions see a major increase. However, this year could prove to be even worse…

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Topics: infection prevention, flu season, Influenza, healthcare, flu vaccine

Warning Nasty Flu Season Ahead

Posted by Lisa A. Mack, MS, MPH on Nov 23, 2017 10:00:00 AM

Reading the articles about the 2017-18 flu season, you’ll see headlines like “potential for nasty winter season”, and “why we may be in for a miserable flu season”. (I don’t think I’ve seen a “good” flu season). During every flu season there are hospitalizations and deaths that occur.  

 

 

The 2017-18 seasonal flu season in the Northern hemisphere is beginning now. Experts are warning that we may be in for a nasty flu season. Our flu season begins usually at low levels in October and November, with a rise in December and continuing through April. Flu levels are at low levels at this point with other respiratory viruses circulating. Our season follows the Southern hemisphere’s season, which occurs during our summer, their winter. Looking at how effective the vaccine produced was, against the circulating strains, gives us a glimpse into what ours may look like. Australia has recorded over 200,000 flu cases so far in 2017, which is more than any of their other flu seasons. Based upon Australia’s experience, we may have a higher number of cases, but nothing is certain.

 

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To arrive at our flu season with our flu vaccine, we need to go back and see how the vaccine is made. Every year a new flu vaccine is made. Influenza is a virus and viruses like to change, or mutate, hence the need to tweak the vaccine components each year. Flu season is a year- long event where the Southern hemisphere has their season before the Northern hemisphere. This is during our summer, and their winter. Scientists study which viruses are circulating, number of hospitalizations, and deaths. Year round the World Health Organization (WHO) has sentinel sites in 113 different countries which collect surveillance information about circulating viruses, severity, and how well the vaccine matches those strains. These small centers send their information to one of the WHO Collaborating Centers on Influenza: Atlanta GA, London, Melbourne, Tokyo, and Beijing. Scientists from each of the 5 sites meet twice each year, in February and again in September first to determine what will compose the Northern hemisphere’s vaccine, and then to determine the following year’s Southern hemisphere vaccine. As you see, there is lag time in the production of the vaccines until they are given to people. The scientists have to choose what they feel will be the predominant strains and hope that when they get to people the virus hasn’t changed much. There is a lot of predicting going into flu vaccine development which happens months in advance for a virus that loves to change.

 

There are 3 types of influenza virus: A, B, and C. The dominant strains we are beginning to see now are A H3N2 (Singapore), A H1N1 (Michigan), and B (Phuket). This presents a bit of a problem as the H3N2 strain is not an exact match as the H3N2 that is in the vaccine, which is A H3N2 (Hong Kong). It is very similar but not exact. But is it worth getting? Yes, of course it is worth it. It may not be the optimal vaccine, but it will provide good coverage. And while it may not match exactly, it will lessen the severity of the infection.  Everyone 6 months and older should receive a flu vaccine before the end of October. Pregnant women, those with underlying health conditions, the young, and the elderly should all make sure to receive their vaccine. It is not only for your protection, but for those around you that can’t receive the vaccine.  There are some additional activities that we should take to prevent flu and other respiratory viruses:

 

  1. Avoid close contact.
  2. Stay home when you are sick.
  3. Cover your mouth and nose, sneeze into your sleeve.
  4. Wash your hands.
  5. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  6. Avoid touching the T-Zone- Eyes, Nose, and Mouth.
  7. Practice good health habits


Learn About the Proper Hand Washing Technique

 

References

  1. Here’s why Canada may be in for a miserable 2017-18 flu season. Carmen Chai. Global News
  2. Prevention and Control of Seasonal Influenza with Vaccines, 2017-18. CDC cdc.gov/flu
  3. Here’s why the 2017 flu season was so bad. Ian M. Mackay, Katherine Arden.http://theconversation.com/here’s-why-the-2017-flu-season-was-so-bad
  4. WHO swaps out H3N2, B strains in Southern Hemisphere flu vaccine. Lisa Schnirring  CIDRAP News cidrap.umn.edu
  5. How Are Seasonal Flu Vaccines Made? Sabrina Stierwalt Quick and Dirty Tips. Com

 

About the Author

Lisa A. Mack MS, MPH is an Epidemiologist and Communicable Disease Investigator. In addition, she is a certified HIV counselor and tester in a county sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinic. She received a Master of Science degree (Epidemiology) from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, School of Public Health and a Master of Public Health degree (Epidemiology) from Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health.

 Her current research interest is investigating the antibacterial properties of essential oils to be used in treating multidrug resistant bacteria (MRSA, MSSA, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, etc.) in the healthcare setting.  She loves germs, diseases, public health, educating & empowering people about their health and well-being. Public Health Rocks!

 

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Topics: infection prevention, flu season, Influenza

Fall into the Infection Prevention Momentum

Posted by Tanya van Monsjou on Nov 16, 2017 2:39:20 PM

Have you ever listened to a song and felt the lyrics were stolen from your inner monologue? Did that song make you feel energized and motivated to make a change? Perhaps it’s not just the song that ignites us, but the idea that someone else shares the same passion! 

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Topics: hand hygiene, infection prevention, International Infection Prevention Week, Global Handwashing Day, National Infection Control Week, World Antibiotic Awareness Week

Hand Hygiene Compliance and the Engaged Patient

Posted by DebMed on Nov 2, 2017 9:25:49 PM

Patient empowerment is a hot-button topic, particularly as it pertains to patients understanding their health needs and ensuring those needs are met by healthcare workers. But where do hospitals and healthcare workers draw the line between empowering patients and taking ownership for their training - or lack thereof?

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Topics: hand hygiene, infection prevention, electronic monitoring, healthcare-associated infections, hand hygiene compliance, hand hygiene education, Canadian Patient Safety Week, patient education, patient engagement

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About the blog

The DebMed blog is the go-to source for hand hygiene and infection prevention related discussions occurring in the healthcare industry. Join the conversation! All readers are invited to comment, share stories and information, and post articles of interest.

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