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Friday, December 14, 2012

Helpful Hints for a Happy, Healthy Holiday!

With Christmas holidays around the corner and almost daily updates on new outbreaks associated with respiratory or gastro nasties, I thought it prudent for the focus of this week’s blog to be on Holiday Infection Prevention.

We are, without a doubt, well into cold and flu season and while we bandy about the terms “cold” and ”flu”, there are certainly more nasties out there than just the cold and flu. The following list is what Public Health Units from across North America are currently seeing in terms of the bugs implicated in some of the outbreaks so far.


Transmission via Direct Contact (when an infected person sneezes mucus directly into the eyes, nose or mouth of another person), Indirect Contact (Hand-to-eye; hand-to-nose; hand-to-mouth transmission from contaminated surfaces or from direct personal contact i.e. shaking hands) and Airborne (when someone inhales the aerosols produced by an infected person coughing, sneezing or spitting);

Symptoms: Influenza is characterized by sudden onset of high fever (38 C-39 C/100 -103 F), cough (typically dry), headache, muscle and joint pain, severe malaise, sore throat and runny nose.  Illness is self-limiting and most people recover within a week. It can be indistinguishable from the common cold in the early stages but the flu can be identified by the high fever and extreme fatigue.


Transmission via Direct Contact (when an infected person sneezes mucus directly into the eyes, nose or mouth of another person), Indirect Contact (Hand-to-eye; hand-to-nose; hand-to-mouth transmission from contaminated surfaces or from direct personal contact i.e. shaking hands) and Airborne (when someone inhales the aerosols produced by an infected person coughing, sneezing);

Symptoms: RSV manifests with the following symptoms: cough (may be croup like or “seal bark” cough), shortness of breath, bluish skin, difficulty breathing, wheezing, stuffy nose, fever, nasal flaring, and rapid breathing.


Transmission via Direct Contact (when an infected person sneezes mucus directly into the eyes, nose or mouth of another person), Indirect Contact (Hand-to-eye; hand-to-nose; hand-to-mouth transmission from contaminated surfaces or from direct personal contact i.e. shaking hands) and Airborne (when someone inhales the aerosols produced by an infected person coughing, sneezing or spitting);

Symptoms: Rhinovirus is characterized by rhinorrhea, blocked nasal passages, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, croup in infants and malaise. The symptoms experienced depend on the number of virus particles replicated. Infected cells produce a molecule called histamine that results in increased nasal secretions.


Transmission via Direct Contact (when an infected person sneezes mucus directly into the eyes, nose or mouth of another person), Indirect Contact (Hand-to-eye; hand-to-nose; hand-to-mouth transmission from contaminated surfaces or from direct personal contact i.e. shaking hands) and Airborne (when someone inhales the aerosols produced by an infected person coughing, sneezing or spitting);

Symptoms: Parainfluenza causes sore throat, stuffy nose, fever, croup, chest pain, cough, shortness of breath, stuffy nose and wheezing


Transmission is Airborne (when someone inhales the aerosols produced by an infected person coughing, sneezing or spitting) can also spread through Indirect Contact (fecal to oral route);

Symptoms: Most infections result in upper respiratory tract infections.  It can also manifest as croup, conjunctivitis, tonsillitis, or ear infections. Adenovirus can also cause gastroenteritis resulting in diarrhea.


Transmission via Direct Contact (caring for or coming in close contact with infected person) and Indirect Contact (hand-to-mouth from contaminated surfaces; eating or drinking contaminated food);

Symptoms: Norovirus causes nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, body aches, fever and headache

Now that we know who we are trying to fight off, what can we do to stay healthy?  Proper hygiene (cleaning and disinfecting hands and surfaces) and practicing social distancing is the primary means to help stop the spread of the bugs we see during “Cold & Flu Season”.  Approximately 80% of infections are transmitted by hands.  Frequent washing of hands with both soap and water or alcohol hand sanitizers is the single most effective way of limiting the spread of the “Cold & Flu Season” bugs.  Hands should be washed after blowing ones nose (and especially after blowing someone else’s nose!) , after covering your mouth after coughing or sneezing, after using the bathroom and most definitely prior to eating or drinking.   Social distancing means reducing the frequency, proximity, and duration of contact between people (i.e. employees, customers and of course small children) to reduce the chances of spreading the “Cold & Flu Season” bugs from person-to-person.   While this is not always possible we can take the opportunity to turn our heads and cover our mouth and nose with our elbows when we cough and sneeze.  Using our elbows to cover our mouth and nose helps to keep our hands free of germs which could spread disease.

 “Cold & Flu Season” bugs can also be spread by touching objects contaminated with the nasties and then transferring the bug from the hands to the nose, mouth or eyes.  High touch hand contact surfaces such as door knobs, light switches, telephones, keyboards etc should be cleaned and disinfected frequently.  During “Cold & Flu Season” you can help stop the spread by cleaning and disinfecting your work areas before going on breaks, lunch and prior to leaving at the end of the day. 

I hope these tips keep you healthy this holiday season!

Bugging Off!

Nicole


And yes, I am extremely happy with my amazing alliteration abilities!  (Ooops!  I did it again! A)

 

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