Prevention of Health Care Related Influenza
Strategies for the prevention and control of influenza in the health-care setting include the following:
- Promote Influenza immunization for persons at high risk for complications
- Promote Influenza immunization for health-care personnel
- Appropriate use of antiviral medications
- Respiratory hygiene/cough etiquette programs
- Standard Precautions and Droplet Precautions
- Restriction of contagious visitors and health care personnel.
Transmission of Influenza A involves three factors:
(1) viable virus,
(2) transfer of the virus
(3) a receptive host.
Little can be done about the presence of the virus in our local communities. All 50 states reported some level of influenza activity during the 2016-2017 flu season.
The next two factors, transfer and receptivity of the host, can be modified to reduce the severity of outbreaks. Personal behavioral changes involving: hand washing, staying home when contagious, cough etiquette/respiratory hygiene and strict adherence to "Standard and Droplet Precautions" will likely reduce incidence.
The primary focus of prevention strategies involves modifying host receptivity. Receptivity can be modified in a number of ways. The current focus is on induced immunity by vaccination. Another method is the disruption of viral RNA replication by the host cell, through use of antiviral medication.
The CDC has provided sound science and guidelines for the prevention of health care related outbreaks of the flu. As health care providers, it is our responsibility to incorporate this science into our practice and to educate our patients regarding their role in the prevention of flu transmission.
Education, vaccination and personal behavioral changes are key to the prevention and control of health care related influenza.