Monday, September 19, 2011

Business travel while sick: facts you need to know!!

Business travel while sick: facts you need to know!!
  • The highest rates of flu have been among those aged one to four
  • The second-highest rates are among those aged between 15 and 44
  • Most fatalities have been aged between five and 65
  • More than a third of deaths have not been in high-risk groups
Nearly all of those who died had not been immunized. Here is a guide of the different types of flu, how to avoid it, and how to deal with the symptoms if you do catch it.

Severe cases of flu are crippling, chances are that you or a member of your family have suffered from it
  • What is the difference between a cold, flu and swine flu? 
A cold is a mild illness caused by a respiratory virus that generally causes sneezing, a cough, a sore throat and a runny nose. It lasts for a short time and causes no complications. 
Flu is a more serious illness caused by a different group of viruses (the influenza viruses). The symptoms are muscle pain, marked tiredness, sweating, shivering, fever and congestion. Chest complications are common in those with chest or heart disease. Flu can be caused by a number of different influenza viruses and swine flu is one of these. Swine flu causes diarrhea and very high temperatures, more so than other flu. 

If I've had the flu shot, am I covered for swine flu? 

Yes. The seasonal flu vaccine this year contains three strains of influenza virus including swine flu. 

If I've already had flu, is it still worth me having the shot? 

If in a high risk group then it is definitely worth it. It may be you have had flu caused by a different strain of influenza virus and the vaccination can offer you protection from other strains, including swine flu.

Can I be a carrier of the virus without having symptoms? 

We have seen people test positive for swine flu who have shown very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. This means you can infect others without showing any symptoms yourself. This is not really being a carrier  -  we call this a sub-clinical infection. 

Does the flu virus react differently in each of us?

Yes. All infections cause a spectrum of symptoms ranging from mild to severe and it is hard to predict how we will react. As well as background health, factors including how many virus particles the body takes on  -  known as viral load  -  are important. 

What medicine should I take if I have flu?

Healthy adults should take acetaminophen (usually two tablets) every six hours. In addition, you can take 400mg ibuprofen every eight hours. It is safe to take the two together. 

When should we call a doctor? 

Anyone in one of the high risk groups who has not been vaccinated should call the doctor immediately if you suspect swine flu.

What are the red flag signs for calling a doctor if not high risk? 

Red flag signs are breathlessness, a fever that is not going down, or reduced urination. It is important to remember lethargy is normal with flu  -  but drowsiness is not. 

When am I contagious? 

You are most infectious/contagious soon after developing symptoms. You can continue to spread the virus, by sneezing, for up to five days. You become less infectious as symptoms subside, and once symptoms are gone, no longer considered infectious. 

Can flu be carried on/in food? 

There is no research to suggest swine flu can be carried on or in food, including pork products. Contaminated objects can transfer the virus so basic hygiene is important when handling everything, including food. 

How long can flu germs exist on a surface? 

Up to 48 hours, depending on the temperature and humidity. Flu viruses survive longer on surfaces than cold viruses. 

Should I be putting my dishwasher on at a higher temperature? 

No. Washing with any detergent and water is enough to remove virus particles. 

And the washing machine? 

Flu viruses cannot survive on clothes for long and washing at normal temperatures is sufficient to remove them. 

Can I transmit it to others via my skin or clothes? 

It does seem to be more contagious than other flu illnesses with more people getting ill from any one contact. Coughing and sneezing creates an aerosol of virus that spreads up to a metre and infection is also possible from contaminated hard surfaces such as door handles rather than clothes. Keep hands clean and there should be no virus to transmit. 

More Travel Tips!
  • Remember, wash your hands after you sneeze or cough!!
  • Always wash your hands after touching the ATM, or when using your credit card
  • Never put your hotel key in your mouth! 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hospital garb harbors nasty bacteria | 60 percent of uniforms tested positive

They might look quite clean, but the white coats, pastel uniforms and colorful surgical scrubs worn by doctors and nurses actually may harbor a host of nasty, potentially dangerous bacteria, a new study finds.  
More than 60 percent of health workers’ uniforms sampled by researchers tested positive for pathogens, including the germs that can cause pneumonia, bloodstream infections and drug-resistant infections such as MRSA.
That’s according to a study of hospital attire published today in the American Journal of Infection Control. Israeli researchers collected samples from the sleeves, waists and pockets of 75 registered nurses and 60 doctors at a busy university-based hospital to confirm the germs.
Half of the samples tested positive for one or more pathogens; potentially dangerous bacteria were isolated from at least one site on 63 percent of the uniforms. Of those, 11 percent of the bugs were resistant to multiple front-line antibiotics.
“These data suggest that personnel attire may be one route by which pathogenic bacteria are transmitted to patients,” concluded the researchers, led by Dr. Yonit Wiener-Well of the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.
To be sure, the study doesn’t verify a link between the germy garb and actual patient infections, the authors say. But it does raise enough questions to reignite conversations about the ick factor of hospital uniforms and scrubs — especially when health workers wear them in public: out to grocery stores, say, or to sandwich shops.
Workers shouldn't wear scrubs home 
AORN is among several groups and hospital systems that seek to limit potential infection by suggesting rules for hospital workers' attire. AORN guidelines say that hospitals should provide laundry services for surgical doctors and nurses to ensure proper cleaning and that health workers should be barred from wearing scrubs outside of their hospitals.
“Since we know these pathogens are present on attire, our job is to reduce exposure to as low a level as we can,” Conner said.
At the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, N.Y., hospital policy calls for staff to don only scrubs laundered at a hospital-owned facility and to refrain from wearing them outside the premises, said Ann Marie Pettis, director of infection prevention.
“I do cringe,” said Ramona Conner, a registered nurse and manager of standards and recommended practices for the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses. “We do know that antibiotic-resistant organisms have been found to survive for extended lengths of time on hospital materials including clothing and linens.”

"The compliance with the policy, however, is less than perfect, unfortunately," Pettis admitted in an e-mail.

Previous studies in Britain and the United States have suggested that hospital worker attire — including neckties, long-sleeved shirts or coats, and watches, rings and other jewelry — could harbor bacteria that might be passed on to patients.  
But other infection experts say that there are some contamination sources that are far more worrisome than clothing or accessories.
“Uniforms could be a source of contamination, but there is more concern about other surfaces around the patients,” said Russell N. Olmsted, president of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.
“What we don’t want to do is direct a lot of energy to sterile attire,” he added.
In the new study, the bacterial burden detected on the sleeves, waists and pockets of the uniforms was apparent, but also fairly low, serving mostly as a warning of possible worse contamination nearby, Olmsted said. For instance, there were 89 isolates of Acinetobacter, a potentially nasty bug, with between one and 36 potential colonies, the study found.
“There are surfaces around the person that have a higher bacterial load. There could be 100 colony-forming units to 1,000 units on a bedrail, for instance,” said Olmsted, an epidemiologist in infection prevention and control services at St. Joseph Mercy Health System in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Experts said the germs detected on the uniforms likely reflected poor hand-washing practices, an intractable problem at most hospitals, where between one-third and one-half of health workers fail to follow good hand hygiene, studies have shown.
The Israeli researchers found, not surprisingly, that contamination increased the longer health workers wore their garb. The rate of contamination with multi-resistant organisms was 29 percent on attire changed every two days, compared with 8 percent in uniforms changed daily, the study found.
They recommended that health workers change into clean uniforms daily, boost their hand hygiene practices and use plastic aprons for messy jobs that may involve splashing or contact with bodily fluids.
That’s good advice, agreed Olmsted and Conner, who both said that decreasing the opportunities for bacteria to hitch a ride on hands, clothing or other objects is the key to infection control.
“Our first response to everything is to err on the side of caution,” Conner said.
By JoNel AlecciaHealth writer | Reprints
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