As you may have heard, flu is already circulating in Colorado and about half of the viruses detected so far are a “drifted” influenza A (H3N2). That means that our seasonal flu vaccination’s effectiveness may be decreased, but, should still provide some protection and reduce the likelihood of severe outcomes such as hospitalization and death. Therefore, we should continue to promote the flu vaccination because other viruses may still circulate this season.
In addition, antiviral medications (oseltamivir or zanamivir) should be used for treatment and prevention of influenza as early as possible for any patient with suspected or confirmed influenza when a high risk of complications exists. Other practices that should help decrease the spread of influenza include hand washing, cough etiquette, staying home from work/school when ill (especially with a fever), and avoiding people who are sick with influenza.
Patients with influenza should be placed in Droplet Precaution Isolation and every caregiver (even if vaccinated) should wear a mask when caring for these patients.
PVMC participates in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE’s) influenza testing program and sends specimens from patients admitted w/ influenza to the state labs. This information is important and is used to predict outbreaks and the spread of influenza. We will keep you informed as the season progresses. You can contact me at X1553 if you have any additional questions.
Colleen Casaceli, Patient Safety Manager