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Flu cases confirmed PDF E-mail

The flu season is definitely upon us!
Influenza is it its prime right now and evidence of that has surfaced in Hamilton County the past couple of weeks.
So far this season, there have been six confirmed Influenza A cases and five confirmed Influenza B cases in Hall, Hamilton and Merrick counties, according to Katie Wichman, RN, at the Central District Health Department in Grand Island. This year has peaked earlier in percent positive Influenza tests than in previous years.
According to the CDC, people with flu can spread it to others up to about six feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. That is why cough hygiene is so important.
“I like to call it the Batman pose with kids,” said infection preventionist Leeta Christie, RN, at memorial Community Health, Inc. “It is when you cough or sneeze into your elbow instead of your hands. That way you are not spreading the germs in the air or on your hands.”
Christie said less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.
“To avoid this, people should wash their hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub every time prior to touching their mouth, nose or eyes,” she said. “Linens, eating utensils, and dishes belonging to those who are sick should not be shared without washing thoroughly first. Hand washing and getting your flu vaccine are the best proven ways to avoid getting the flu.”  
The CDC said most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than seven days. Symptoms start one to four days after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Some persons can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those persons may still spread the virus to others.
“Just think, if everyone got their flu shot, practiced good hand hygiene and cough etiquette, we could greatly decrease the spread of flu,” Christie said.
The MCHI infection preventionist said at this point, the cases they have seen in the Aurora hospital have not been vaccinated.
“Often people tell me that they ‘never get sick’ or would rather get sick than get poked with a needle.  I would just encourage them to think about those who do not have the ability to fight off the flu virus,” she said. “Many who are taking chemo, the elderly, infants, or those who have a chronic illness are at a much higher risk of developing severe complications and even death from the flu virus.”
While Memorial Community Health, Inc. does not mandate flu vaccination for staff members, they make it a very high priority.  Christie said at present, 86 percent of MCHI staff has been vaccinated. It is not too late to get a flu vaccination, but it does take two weeks to build immunity.
“We all need to do our part to prevent influenza’s spread,” she said. “The hospital and nursing homes are prime spots for this awareness. Please stay home if you are feeling sick.”
Those coming to the hospital as a visitor, outpatient, inpatient,for a lab test or to a nursing home are asked to use the hand sanitizer that is placed at each entrance, as this cuts down on germs entering the building. Christie said the same should be done as you exit, to prevent taking unwanted germs home.
“Outside of all patient rooms in the hospital are hand foam dispensers. This allows us to practice what we call ‘threshold hand hygiene’,” Christie said.  “Whenever anyone crossed the doorway to or from a patient’s room, it is required to use hand foam to prevent taking germs into or out of the room. We would ask that all visitors do the same to help us in our effort to protect both the patient and visitor.”
If you must come to the hospital while feeling ill, MCHI urges the use of a mask that is also provided at each entrance.”
“If everyone in our community would work together by getting their flu vaccine, staying home at least 24 hours after fever is gone without an analgesic (fever reducer), using proper hand hygiene before caring for nose, eyes or mouth and using the sleeve or tissue for proper cough and sneeze etiquette, we could greatly increase our community protection against the flu,” Christie said.

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