If you think that flu season is almost over, think again.
We’re in the thick of flu season, and you need to prepare for cases to skyrocket at your organization. Do you have the personnel to fill in for team members who fall ill? Do you have precautions in place to prevent outbreaks?
Here’s everything you need to know about the flu and how to prevent it.
What is Influenza?
Influenza, commonly called the flu, is a respiratory virus that causes infection in the nose, throat, and lungs. For most people, a flu infection is a very uncomfortable but mild disease that they can recover from on their own. However, for small children, elder adults, and people with immune disorders, the flu can be life-threatening.
There are a few different types of flu that can cause seasonal epidemics. You probably remember major concerns over H1N1 (or swine flu) that caused a pandemic in 2009. That H1N1 virus is just one of many that make up the Flu A strain of the virus. There is also Flu B, which is another potentially epidemic strain. Flu C is generally mild and doesn’t cause major outbreaks, and Flu D mainly affects cattle.
Because there are several different strains of influenza, epidemiologists have to closely study patterns of outbreaks to select the best vaccine for each flu season.
Since the dominant flu strain is different every year, you won’t always see all of these symptoms, but these are the most common signs of a flu infection:
- Dry cough
- Runny nose or congestion
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Muscle aches
In children, you may also see instances of vomiting and diarrhea with the flu.
When does flu season peak?
In the US, we typically see the highest number of flu cases in January and February. However, you can always expect to see early cases in October as well as flu infections that linger into May.
The flu virus depends on low humidity and low temperatures to spread easily from person to person, which is why we see an uptick in cases during the coldest months of the year.
The Burden of Influenza
Every year, the flu causes between 100,000 – 710,000 hospitalizations and 4,900 – 52,000 deaths according to the CDC. While we might think of the flu as a week of feeling cruddy, many families suffer under crippling medical debt and grieving the loss of loved ones due to the flu.
In order to reduce the burden of the flu on American families, we all need to do our part to prevent flu transmission, especially during busy holiday months where people are more likely to gather with friends and family.
How to Prevent Flu
Vaccines are our first line of defense against the flu. Flu researchers around the world devote themselves to developing and selecting the most effective vaccine each year in hopes of preventing many of those deaths and hospitalizations. In early fall, you should reach out to your doctor to schedule a flu vaccine. If you’re not insured or underinsured, programs like Vaccines for Children can assist in covering costs.
Once you’ve gotten your vaccine, it’s time to prioritize hand hygiene. The flu spreads through droplets in the air and also by contaminated hands. After you touch a shared surface (like a door knob or railing), you should wash your hands before touching your face or handling food.
If you know you’re sick, you need to do your part to avoid spreading it to others. Infected adults are contagious as early as one day before they start to show symptoms and continue to shed virus for up to seven days after the first symptom arrives. As much as you’d like to return to work or just get out the house, it’s important to stay home and ride out your illness until it’s safe to be around others again. You never know if someone high-risk is sitting next to you at a restaurant.
In close environments, like schools, firehouses, nursing homes, and military bases, you should take extra precautions during flu season. Beef up your cleaning protocol by adding in high-powered disinfectants, especially on shared equipment and gear.
Next Level Disinfection
Do you have a lot of gear that needs fast, effective disinfection? Is most of it made of plastic or perishable materials that can’t just be thrown in the wash? We have a solution for you that will keep your team safe throughout flu season.
Whether you’re a football coach or the chief of police, Global Ozone has sanitizing products that will make your life safer and easier. Check out Sports-O-Zone and Decon Zone for simple yet powerful disinfection for all of your athletic and tactical gear. To sanitize large areas, you need the Gear Blaster, which can disinfect rooms up 2,000 square feet.
Interested? Reach out to us to learn more.