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February 7, 2013

The Flu Season - How to Protect Yourself with Standard Precautions

It's flu season, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are busy as usual tracking what they call ILI, or "influenza-like illness." With the exception of a handful of states in the Southeast and a few other exceptions, the U.S. is reporting widespread flu activity as shown in this map.

 

CDC Map, Week ending January 26

You can download this map at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/usmap.htm

In order for a pathogen to cause a disease or infection there are certain conditions that must be met. 

  1. A pathogen must be present 

  2. There must be an adequate quantity of the pathogen to overwhelm the immune response

  3. There must be a suitable entry site for the pathogen to enter the body

  4. The person must have a susceptibility to the pathogen 

By eliminating at least one condition infection will not occur. 

We all know that infections happen, and it's no fun. What can you do to protect yourself and your family?

As emergency care instructors, we're very familiar with Standard Precautions. We teach our students about PPE (personal protective equipment) like gloves and masks, but there are two easy steps that really jump out at me today as I think about flu season and other communicable diseases:handwashing

  1. Wash, wash, WASH your hands...and then wash them some more! The CDC actually created a website dedicated to handwashing. Now, that might be more than you need as a reminder that soap and water (or at least handsanitizer) are your two best friends this time of year. For a quick recap on when to wash and how to do it like a pro, check out their handwashing feature page.

  2. Wipe down those manikins and all training equipment after use! 

These are good tips all year round, but it's especially important now to keep you and your equipment as clean and germ-free as possible.

Wishing you good health!

Kristine Rice

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