Contributed by Jessie McDole, Medical Assistant Program Chair, Minnesota School of Business – Plymouth Campus
If you have been watching the news lately you may have seen that the 2012-2013 influenza season has been much more serious than in has been in recent years. There have been many more infections with influenza than usual, and because of that there have been an increased number of hospitalizations and deaths.
According to the CDC: “Influenza, commonly called the “flu,” is a contagious viral infection that affects the respiratory system—your nose, throat and lungs. Symptoms of the flu can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea”. Influenza can affect anyone of any age, but the people who seem to get the sickest and have the poorest outcomes are infants, young children, the elderly, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease, and those that are immuno-comprimised.
There are several ways to try to prevent influenza. The first way is to get an influenza vaccine! The people mentioned above who are more susceptible to influenza should get a vaccine as well as anyone working with those people in any capacity including Minnesota School of Business students working in Medical Assisting. It is a myth that you can get influenza from the vaccine, so don’t let that discourage you. You can call your doctor to schedule an appointment to get your vaccine or visit a local pharmacy that gives vaccines.
The CDC discusses additional ways to prevent influenza. They recommend: “Everyday preventive actions are steps that people can take to help slow the spread of germs that cause respiratory illness, like flu. They are not a substitute for vaccination. These include the following personal and community actions:
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you get sick with a respiratory illness, like flu, limit contact with others as possible. Stay home (or keep your child home) for at least 24 hours after fever is gone except to seek medical care or for other necessities. Fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
- If an outbreak of flu or another illness occurs, follow public health advice. This may include information about how to increase distance between people and other measures.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. This will block the spread of droplets from your mouth or nose that could contain germs.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub”.
Use this information to keep yourself, your loved ones, and your patients/clients well, and if you would like more information please visit the CDC website.