Fasten your seatbelts because this year’s flu season could be a long, bumpy ride.
Currently, Georgia, South Carolina and the rest of the nation are experiencing widespread influenza activity with elevated severity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. AU Health is no exception. Doctors at AU Medical Center, Children’s Hospital of Georgia, and the AU Health clinics have seen about 10 to 15 new flu patients a day in the past week, prompting hospital officials to share the following precautions with faculty, staff, and students to help curb the spread of the flu virus on campus and in the community:
- Practice appropriate hand hygiene: wash with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your elbow when sneezing or coughing.
- Avoid touching your face, particularly mucous membranes like the nose, mouth, and eyes.
- Contact your care provider by phone for possible antivirals if very young, over the age of 65, or have chronic medical conditions.
- Stay home if you are sick until you are free of fever for at least 24 hours without the help of fever-reducing medication.
- Sick household members should stay away from common areas of the home.
- Designate a clean and sick bathroom if you have more than one to do so.
- Clean the sick room and sick bathroom daily with disinfectant.
- Clean linens, eating utensils and dishes quickly after use by an ill housemate.
In addition, it is recommended that you wear a surgical mask during and up to 5 days after caring for someone with flu or flu-like illness.
Employees should also be aware that hospital officials have put into effect the Modified Family Presence plan to limit visitors, especially visitors who could bring in illnesses to an already vulnerable patient population.
Even though this year’s flu shot could be less effective on this year’s main flu strain, Epidemiology officials still recommend the flu shot as it can potentially lessen symptoms. Hospital leaders also said they appreciate the effort by employees and clinical teams to meet the Thanksgiving deadline for mandatory flu shots for those involved in patient care. However, if someone in your family has not been vaccinated, it is not too late, and you are encouraged to help make that happen quickly.