‘Falling’ into Flu Prevention

Author: Caitlin Stowe MPH, CPH, CIC,

Categories: Clinical Pathogens/Alerts October 27, 2017
FluPrevention_November2017-Blog

Bonfires, pumpkin patches, and football are some of the fun activities that come to my mind when someone mentions the word, “fall”. And, while getting a flu shot is definitely not on the list of fun things to do, it definitely is one of the most important preventive measures we can take this time of year. According to the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC), while “seasonal influenza (flu) viruses can be detected year-round in the United States, flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter.”

So, what is the ‘flu’?

Influenza, or “the flu”, is caused by the Influenza virus. There are two strains that normally cause disease in humans: Influenza A and Influenza B, both spread through the air or by touching contaminated surfaces. Symptoms of the flu are fairly generic, but commonly include fever, runny nose, cough, muscle aches, headache and tiredness. Symptoms usually start about two days after exposure, and most people will recover from their illness in less than a week. There are antivirals, such as oseltamivir, that if taken within two days of symptom onset, can reduce the length of illness.

How can I help prevent it from spreading?

1) Vaccinate: According to the CDC, the Influenza vaccine is the best way you can protect yourself from the flu. It is recommended that anyone over the age of 6 months, who does not have any contraindications, receive the vaccine. This flu season, there are two types of vaccinations available – one that contains three strains of the Influenza virus (called Trivalent), and one that contains the above mentioned three strains, plus an extra Influenza B strain (called Quadrivalent)1

2) Respiratory, Environmental and Hand Hygiene: In addition to getting the flu shot, there are effective strategies to keep the flu from spreading.

  • Respiratory hygiene:
    • Simple and effective: Ensure that any time you cough or sneeze you “do it in your sleeve” to help you keep germs contained2.
  • Environmental hygiene:
    • The Influenza virus is an enveloped virus, which means it’s fairly easy to kill if you use the appropriate product.
    • Disinfect high-touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the virus, such as blood pressure cuffs, thermometers, wheelchairs, stethoscopes, tables, and examination tables, with an EPA-registered, hospital-grade disinfectant with approved efficacy claims against the Influenza virus.
  • Hand hygiene:
    • The most basic element of infection prevention for preventing the transmission of Influenza
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.3

Using the above strategies, in conjunction with receiving the vaccine, will help keep you and everyone around you as healthy (as possible), allowing you to enjoy the fall season to its fullest.

 

1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention:https://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/acip/index.htm

2. Cornell University Emergency Preparedness:http://emergencypreparedness.cce.cornell.edu/disease/Pages/DoItInYourSleeves.aspx

3. Center for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/consumer/prevention.htm

Author

Caitlin Stowe MPH, CPH, CIC, CPHQ, VA-BC
Caitlin Stowe PDI Clinical Research Manager Clinical Affairs Research Manager, PDI

Profile

Caitlin started her career at the early age of 12, working in her parents’ medical practice. During graduate school, she got the chance to shadow an infection preventionist, and was hooked. Caitlin has practiced in a variety of infection prevention roles and settings since 2009.

Caitlin joined PDI in 2016 as a clinical science liaison (CSL), and provided clinical expertise to customers in the Midwest region of the country. She was promoted in 2019 to PDI’s first Clinical Affairs Research Manager.

Currently, Caitlin manages the clinical evidence portfolio for all post-market PDI products.

Contact

Phone: 615-920-6603

Company Website pdihc.com

Email: Caitlin.Stowe@pdihc.com

Hobbies

Spending time with my family
Reading
Pilates
Hiking

Education

Nova Southeastern University
Doctor of Philosophy in Health Science – In progress

University of South Florida
Master in Public Health in Global Communicable Disease

University of South Florida
Graduate Certificate in Infection Control

University of Central Florida
Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies

Certification
Certification in Public Health (NBPH) – CPH
Certification Board of Infection Control (CBIC) – CIC
Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (NAHQ) – CPHQ
Certification in Vascular Access (VACC) – VA-BC

Why I love what I do

I have always loved learning, especially about science. When I found infection prevention, the combination of statistics, disease transmission, and education sounded like the perfect career to me. I have enjoyed every step of my infection prevention journey, and transitioning to industry and then research, has really allowed me to evolve my skill set. I love being able to help our customers by acting as a resource they can use when they have questions.

Areas of Expertise

Research
Epidemiology
Emerging Pathogens
Infection surveillance technology
Education

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