Prevention Methods for Influenza

Published: Dec 8, 2010

Healthcare professionals should adhere to the following precautions when caring for residents with symptoms of respiratory infection:

  • Decontaminate hands before and after contact with the resident.
  • Wear gloves.
  • Wear a gown.
  • Wash contaminated hands with antimicrobial or plain soap and water.
  • Decontaminate hands with an alcohol based rub on a regular basis.
  • Perform hand hygiene and change your gloves and gown after encountering a resident.

Droplet precautions

During the care of a resident with suspected or confirmed influenza, healthcare personnel should adhere to Droplet Precautions for 5 days after the onset of the illness:

  • While moving or transporting a resident, have him or her wear a surgical mask if possible.
  • Wear a surgical mask when entering the resident’s room, the mask should be removed and disposed in a waste container after exiting the room.
  • Place a resident in a private room, if a room is not available then place the resident who has confirmed influenza with other residents with confirmed influenza. Residents suspected of influenza should be placed with other residents who are also suspected of having influenza.

Respiratory Hygiene/Cough Etiquette Programs

Implementation of Respiratory Hygiene/Cough Etiquette Programs is required to prevent the transmission of all respiratory tract infections in long term care facilities.

  • Provide alcohol based rubs in waiting rooms and common areas.
  • Provide tissues or masks to residents or visitors who are coughing or sneezing.
  • Discourage residents with symptoms from using common areas.
  • Post signs asking residents or visitors to inform healthcare personnel if they have symptoms of respiratory infection.
  • Provide alcohol based hand rubs in common areas and ensure hand washing supplies are available where sinks are located.
  • Discourage those who are ill from visiting the facility.
  • Encourage those who are coughing to sit at least 3 to 6 feet away from others.

Restrictions for III visitors and III Healthcare Personnel when Influenza activity is occurring

  • Employees with symptoms should not come to work.
  • Post a notice that adults with respiratory symptoms should not visit the facility for 5 days and children with symptoms should not visit for 10 days.
  • To maintain the resident’s ability to socialize during rehabilitation, residents with symptoms can be permitted to have group meals if they can be placed 3 to 6 feet away from other residents and can adhere to Respiratory Hygiene/Cough Etiquette Programs.

Patients receiving antiviral treatment should continue to be confined until treatment is complete because they still may be infectious. Prompt testing should be done if any individual is suspected of having influenza.

Confine residents with symptoms or confirmed influenza and their exposed roommates to a room or a unit for 5 days following the onset of illness. If possible, healthcare personnel should only work on one unit.

Aside from these precautions educating healthcare personnel about influenza is also important. All healthcare personnel should be familiar with the importance of vaccination, control measures, signs, symptoms and indications for obtaining influenza testing.

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