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Flu Prevention & Outbreak Management

Guidelines for flu prevention and outbreak management

By Patricia Howell, RN, BSN, Clinical Support Manager, McKesson Medical Surgical

In general the flu season will peak mid to late winter and continue through early spring. This flu season many states have been experiencing significant regional and even widespread reports of confirmed flu and flu like symptoms. Preventing transmission of the flu requires a multifaceted approach that includes:

  1. Vaccination
  2. Testing
  3. Infection Control
  4. Antiviral Treatment and Chemoprophylaxis
  5. Education 

Guidelines for Flu Prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided a guideline "Interim Guidance for Influenza Outbreak Management in Long Term Care Facilities." The interim guidance recommends residents to receive the trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine (TIV) annually and before flu season. However, new residents are admitted on a daily basis to a facility and should be given the opportunity for vaccination as soon as possible after admission. If residents experience flu like signs and symptoms they should be tested. The CDC recommends if residents are experiencing flu like illness outside of the flu season, they should still be tested. Infection control measures are standard precautions when providing care for residents in long term care. When a resident is experiencing flu like symptoms or the flu has been confirmed, droplet precautions are recommended for 7 days after the onset of the illness or 24 hours after the resolution of fever and symptoms resolve.

Flu Testing and Treatment

When a resident is experiencing flu like symptoms they should be tested to confirm the flu. The CDC recommends starting the antiviral as soon as possible and to not wait for the confirmation of the flu. The antiviral works best when started within the first two days of symptoms. If an outbreak is determined all residents in the facility should receive antiviral chemoprophylaxis as soon as a flu outbreak is determined. Encourage your customers to have enough infection control supplies on hand in case of an outbreak, including antiviral treatment.         

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About the Author

Patricia Howell, RN, BSN, Clinical Support Manager, McKesson Medical-Surgical
Patricia Howell graduated with a BSN from the University of Phoenix. Her skills and work experience includes facility and corporate level positions in Nursing Homes, Sub-acute Care Centers, Assisted Living and Home Care, as well as having her own business serving elders and the long term care community. Patricia is now one of the Clinical Support Managers on the McKesson Clinical Resource Team.         

Unless otherwise noted, the recommendations in this document were obtained from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Be advised that information contained herein is intended to serve as a useful reference for informational purposes only and is not complete clinical information. This information is intended for use only by competent healthcare professionals exercising judgment in providing care. McKesson cannot be held responsible for the continued currency of or for any errors or omissions in the information.

The product information contained in this document, including the product images and additional product materials, was collected from various supplier sources. All product claims and specifications are those of the product suppliers, not McKesson Medical-Surgical or its affiliates ("McKesson") and have not been independently verified by McKesson. McKesson is not responsible for errors or omissions in the product information. The properties of a product may change or be inaccurate following the posting or printing of the product information in the document, either in the print or online version. Caution should be exercised when using or purchasing any products from McKesson's online or print documents by closely examining the product packaging and the labeling prior to use. Due to product changes, information listed in this document is subject to change without notice. This information is placed solely for your convenience in ordering and McKesson disclaims all responsibility for its completeness and accuracy, whether or not the inaccuracy or incompleteness is due to fault or error by McKesson.

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