The current flu season is grabbing headlines at the regional and national level, as medical groups and hospitals continue to report record numbers of cases.
In a transcript for the CDC Update on Flu Activity, February 2, 2018, CDC Acting Director Dr. Anne Schuchat speaks to the seriousness of this season’s outbreak:
“In the past week [as of Friday, January 27], we have seen increased influenza-like illness activity, more hospitalizations, and tragically, more flu associated deaths in children and adults. And as of this week, overall hospitalizations are now the highest we’ve seen. even higher than the 2014-’15, our previous high season. We also continue to hear reports of crowded hospitals and spot shortages of antiviral medications and rapid influenza tests. Unfortunately, our latest tracking data indicate that the flu activity is still high and widespread across most of the nation. and increasing overall....[W]e’ve received reports for a total of 53 children who have died of the flu so far this season.”
48 states are reporting widespread flu activity for strains including Influenza A H3N2, H1N1 and Influenza B. What might be simply a few days of inconvenience for many people can turn deadly for sensitive and at-risk groups, where influenza may lead to serious illnesses like bacterial pneumonias. So it’s up to all of us to be good citizens and practice good precautionary measures.
Dr. Schuchat reminds us that:
“You can reduce your risk of getting the flu through every day measures. Please stay home if you are sick to help prevent spreading respiratory viruses to others. We also recommend you frequently wash your hands and to reduce spreading infections cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.”
The Fine Art of Handwashing
The CDC offers a quick tutorial on this simple, but important, task:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
A special shout-out to our emergency care instructors: Be sure to disinfect your manikins and all your training equipment after each class.
There are still a few more weeks of flu season. Help us keep our communities, schools and workplaces safe: stay home if you are sick, get a flu shot and keep those hands clean and your sneezes to yourself. Your family, friends and coworkers will thank you!