The 2019-2020 flu season is already upon us, and it is time for facilities managers and custodial teams to take proactive steps to prevent outbreaks and ensure the health and safety of all facility occupants.
Infection Control Measures to Prevent Influenza Outbreaks
The 2019-2020 flu season started earlier than expected this year.
The U.S. typically takes its queues for when the season will start from Australia, but there have been confirmed reports of the flu as early as August in at least one state.
According to the Iowa Influenza Surveillance Network (IISN)
The State Hygienic Laboratory detected one influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 and three influenza A(H3) from submitted samples.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 2018-2019 flu season resulted in:
- 37.4 million – 42.9 million flu illnesses.
- 17.3 million – 20.1 million flu medical visits.
- 531,000 – 647,000 flu hospitalizations, and;
- 36,400 – 61,200 flu deaths.
This was considered a mild season, particularly when compared to the 2017-2018 flu season, but was the longest on record in a decade--resulting in complications that reduced the efficacy of the available influenza vaccine to a range of 6%-49%, depending on age demographics.
Given the potential for the relatively low levels of effectiveness for the influenza vaccine to prevent illness and outbreaks over a given season, additional infection prevention and control measures are recommended, including:
- Increased handwashing practices.
- Regular surface and fomite cleaning, and;
- The daily disinfection of regularly occupied facility spaces.
Improving Handwashing Practices to Combat Influenza Outbreaks
It has been surmised that the single best method for preventing the spread of infectious disease is high-quality handwashing practices using regular soap and water for at least twenty seconds;
- After using the restroom.
- Before eating.
- After sneezing or coughing, and;
- After contacting a contaminated person or surface.
According to the CDC;
According to the CDC, approximately 80 percent of infectious diseases are transmitted by touch and the CDC recommends hand hygiene as one of the most important steps to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.
In fact, results from the Wakefield Research Survey showed that of those who didn’t get sick last winter-germ season, the majority of them, 67 percent, said hand hygiene is the reason why.
How Surfaces Spread Germs
Upon initial inspection, offices and classrooms would not appear to have a great deal in common, though the line is being blurred with the rise in popularity of hot-desking and shared workspaces.
However, each of these facility types is where humans spend the vast majority of their day, which means we are continually coming into contact with germs spread by the hands of fellow facility occupants.
Step back for a moment and consider each surface you touch with your hands each day.
Now consider how many people touched those surfaces before you within the context of 80% of germs are spread by touch, including influenza.
Now reflect on how many times you have touched your face, eyes, nose, or mouth while reading this article.
That's how germs are spread and how people get sick.
Regularly cleaning and disinfecting these surfaces works to reduce the instance of germs and bacteria on any given surface.
The more often the surface is touched, the more often it should be cleaned and disinfected, especially during easily predictable, always deadly, cyclical influenza outbreaks.
Surface Cleaning and Disinfection Measures to Prevent the Spread of Influenza
In the past, conventional wisdom stated that daily disinfection practices were not necessary to prevent the outbreak of infectious disease, including influenza.
However, a two-year study at a Florida school district demonstrated the effectiveness of daily disinfection at reducing student absenteeism and eliminating outbreaks.
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The 'trick' to reproducing these results in your facility is two-fold:
- Thoroughly clean all surfaces, especially fomites--high-contact surfaces--before disinfecting to ensure maximum efficacy, and;
- Disinfect with an electrostatic disinfection appliance to provide complete surface coverage.
Additionally, institute a high-performance cross-contamination prevention cleaning system that includes the use of color-coded microfiber and the two-bucket cleaning method to prevent the accidental transmission of germs from one surface--including the cleaning equipment--to another.
The influenza virus has become increasingly problematic for our society, resulting in the preventable deaths of tens of thousands every year, and carrying a financial burden, well into the tens of billions in healthcare costs and lost productivity.
Implementing a well-constructed process for cleaning and disinfecting regularly occupied spaces and routinely touched surfaces, combined with CDC recommended handwashing practices is a proven method for providing maximum protection to all facility occupants.
Partnering with an experienced and dedicated service provider, possessing the tools and experience necessary to implement these types of programs is a cost-effective method for rapidly onboarding additional, seasonal infection prevention and control measures.
Contact us today and discover why Vanguard Cleaning Systems® is the Standard of Clean® for businesses throughout Northwest Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.
In Oklahoma, dial 918-960-4450
In Arkansas, dial 479-717-2410
In Missouri, dial 417-812-9777