It is flu season once again and a time when emergency rooms are filled with patients suffering from symptoms that need treatment but also bring challenges to hospitals, patients already admitted, and the staff themselves. Influenza prevalence increases in hospitals during flu season because when these ailing patients are admitted, they, unfortunately, bring the virus into the facility. The virus can spread to other vulnerable patients and even the staff. In cases where an outbreak occurs, research has shown the attack rate can have impact on up to 20% of patients. This year the main culprit is the H3N2 virus which has been identified in over 80% of all cases. Daniel Jernigen of the CDC says ‘This is a bad virus’ and recommends utilizing the CDCs FluView website to stay attuned to the rapid increase of reported cases and geographical spread of the virus.
Influenza occurs most frequently in children and teenagers between the ages of 5 and 14 years of age. When influenza is transmitted, symptoms develop in approximately 50% of patients. The flu virus can be transferred by air when those infected sneeze, cough, and even breath. These droplets find their way to others and begin their work wreaking havoc. Besides, being transferred by air, the flu can be transferred to and from surfaces by hands utilizing phones and other mobile devices. Many pathogens live on mobile devices and can survive there for up to 30 months. The flu specifically can live on a surface for up to 24 hours after the ‘depositor’ has left their ‘deposit’.All of these factors have caused some hospitals to take extreme measures. In Detroit for example, All Beaumont Health systems have banned visits from children under 13 years of age. Children easily spread viruses in classrooms, daycare, and are a “vector” for spreading germs. You can find more information on precautions and care at the CDC website here. Be careful out there!