The Flu Season is Starting – What to Expert and Preventative Tips

Experts Warn Current Flu Season Could Be Particularly Bad

In continuing coverage, the Washington Times (12/4, Kelly, 624K) reports that researchers at the National Institutes of Health published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine warning that the current flu season in the Northern Hemisphere could be particularly bad, because the current flu vaccine does not protect against a strain that made more than 200,000 people sick in Australia earlier this year during their flu season. The researchers wrote, “Vaccine mismatches have occurred in years in which circulating influenza strains change after the decision is made about vaccine composition, resulting in reduced vaccine effectiveness.”

Medscape (12/4, Kelly, 204K) reports that experts at the NIH and the World Health Organization have warned that this season’s flu vaccine has left the US “relatively defenseless against the influenza A (H3N2) strain now making its way over from the Southern hemisphere.” Medscape reports that the article published in NEJM calls for a universal flu vaccine, because the current situation illustrates the weaknesses of seasonal development. Medscape mentions that Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is one of the NEJM article’s authors.

Popular Science (12/4, Chodosh, 1.7M) reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention monitors “influenza-like illness” (ILI) as a metric for tracking influenza, and that there has been an uptick in ILI “plus a wider geographic spread than in previous years.” Lynnette Brammer, the head of the CDC’s influenza division’s domestic surveillance team, said, “We are seeing sort of an early uptick in ILI. The percentage of outpatient visits is higher than what we’ve seen for the same weeks since the 2010-11 season, but it’s only by 1-2 weeks.”

How is your company helping to prevent the spread of the flu?

At The Maplewood, all staff and volunteers have received the flu vaccine. We make it easy with free in-house flu clinics. We take it a step further with good old-fashioned preventative measures such as wearing a mask if you are sick, hand-washing awareness and education.

Here are Tips from Dr. Will Sawyer, Infection Prevention Specialist:

Follow the Four Principles of Hand Awareness

  1. Wash your hands before and after eating.
  2. Do not cough into your hands.
  3. Do not sneeze into your hands.
  4. Above all, do not put your fingers in your eyes, nose and mouth.

Avoid the T Zone

“The T Zone is the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and mouth. Those mucous membranes are the only portals of entry for bacteria that cause respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases. Touching your T Zone with fingers or hands that are contaminated with germs can make you sick. Avoiding the T Zone is the only way to avoid getting a cold, flu or other respiratory illness.”