CDC Bracing for a Bad Flu Season

Karen Morris in Clinical & Quality

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced recently that this year's dominant strain of influenza is dangerous and the vaccine might be of limited effectiveness, however, providers are reminded that the vaccination is still the best prevention against all strains of influenza and should continue to be encouraged for residents and employees.  As of November 22, influenza activity has increased slightly in most counties of New York State. Surveillance data indicate that influenza A (H3N2) viruses have predominated so far, with lower levels of detection of influenza B viruses, and even less detection of H1N1 viruses.

CDC is reminding physicians they can and should use two antiviral drugs to treat flu and in some cases to prevent it. They're called Tamiflu and Relenza, and giving them to people within a day or two of infection can keep them out of the hospital and reduce how long they're sick.  In nursing homes and other institutions, where the population is more vulnerable to the complications of influenza, the CDC recommends the use of these antiviral drugs to prevent infection. Facilities should institute precautionary measures to prevent an outbreak when at least two residents are ill within 72 hours and at least one has laboratory confirmed influenza. Signage should be posted now to alert visitors that they should not visit if they are exhibiting signs and symptoms of illness and proper hand and cough hygiene should be strictly enforced. Visit the NYSDOH website/influenza for more information, signage and educational materials.

Karen Morris

Director, Clinical & Quality Services
518-462-4800, ext. 15