Saturday, May 2, 2009

Flu Prevention & Proper Cleaning Procedure

This information refers to prevention of seasonal flu and general hygiene for cleaning professionals.

Read more for proper cleaning procedure.
More information on H1N1 A/Swine Flu and proper Cleaning Procedure 2. Click to read more.

What should I do to keep from getting the flu?
First and most important: wash your hands. Try to stay in good general health. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food. Try not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

How long can viruses live outside the body?
We know that some viruses and bacteria can live 2 hours or longer on surfaces like cafeteria tables, doorknobs, and desks. Frequent hand washing will help you reduce the chance of getting contamination from these common surfaces.

What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?
There is no vaccine available right now to protect against swine flu. There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Take these everyday steps to protect your health:

· Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or
sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

· Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you
cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.

· Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.

· Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

· If you get sick with influenza, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

What is the best technique for washing my hands to avoid getting the flu?
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Wash with soap and water. or clean with alcohol-based hand cleaner. we recommend that when you wash your hands -- with soap and warm water -- that you wash for 15 to 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used. You can find them in most supermarkets and drugstores. If using gel, rub your hands until the gel is dry. The gel doesn't need water to work; the alcohol in it kills the germs on your hands.

The following is information from the Mayo clinic website that describes the difference between bacterial and viral infections.

Bacterial infection vs. viral infection: What's the difference?

What's the difference between a bacterial infection and a viral infection?

from James M. Steckelberg, M.D.

Simply put, bacterial infections are caused by bacteria and viral infections are caused by viruses. But they're also different in other ways.

Bacteria are single-celled "living" microorganisms that reproduce by dividing. Most bacteria can grow on nonliving surfaces, such as counter tops and doorknobs. Not all bacteria are harmful. Some bacteria are even beneficial to your health. But when infectious bacteria enter your body, they can make you sick. Bacteria make toxins that can damage the cells they've invaded. Some bacterial infections, such as strep throat and tuberculosis, are contagious. Others are not.

Unlike bacteria, viruses are not "living" organisms but capsules of genetic material. They require living hosts - such as people, plants or animals - to multiply. Otherwise, they can't survive. When a virus enters your body, it invades some of your cells and takes over the cell machinery, redirecting it to produce the virus. The virus may eventually kill the host cells. Some viral infections, such as influenza and HIV, are contagious. Others are not.

The distinction between bacterial and viral infections is important. Why? Because medications that are effective against one aren't effective against the other.

Bacterial infections are treated with antibacterial antibiotics. Antiviral antibiotics are available for some types of viral infections - but not all. Taking antibacterial antibiotics when you have a viral infection won't treat the viral infection and may even be harmful. Consult your doctor for advice on a specific condition.

Wikipedia says the following at:

In general, viral infections are systemic. This means they involve many different parts of the body or more than one body system at the same time; i.e. a runny nose, sinus congestion, cough, body aches etc. They can be local at times as in viral conjunctivitis or "pink eye" and herpes. Only a few viral infections are painful, like herpes. The pain of viral infections is often described as itchy or burning.,[2]
The classic symptoms of a bacterial infection are localized Redness, Heat, Swelling and Pain. One of the hallmarks of a bacterial infection is local pain, pain that is in a specific part of the body. For example, if a cut occurs and it is infected with bacteria, pain will occur at the site of the infection. Bacterial throat pain is often characterised by more pain on one side of the throat. An ear infection is more likely to be bacterial if the pain occurs in only one ear. An infection that produces pus is not always bacterial.


What Else Can You Do?

When a flu virus spreads through a population there are only a few ways to truly fight it; correct cleaning practices, proper hygiene (hand washing) and a strong immune system.

It is often people's first response to overuse disinfectants. This can be counter-productive since disinfectants are often improperly used and most are known to have higher toxicity for humans. The CDC's statement to health care infection control practitioners is that "Routine cleaning and disinfection strategies used during influenza seasons can be applied to the environmental management of swine influenza."

CDC Statement on Infection Control

Our best defense against disease is a strong immune system. This fact brings the necessity of lower toxicity cleaning chemicals into full focus. Daily exposure to chemicals with higher toxicity overburdens the body and weakens the immune system, making it more difficult to fight off viral infections.

This is especially important for the people cleaning. Custodial workers and Contract Cleaners face a greater risk, especially if their immune systems are being constantly weakened by higher toxicity cleaning chemicals. Children and the elderly are also more susceptible and should only be exposed to higher toxicity chemicals when absolutely necessary.

The best cleaning approach is to get back to basics. Clean well and often with low toxicity cleaning chemicals, preferably those with sanitizer and virucidal claims. Cleaning will physically remove virtually all viruses from any hard surface. Then, use your disinfectant on all pre-cleaned disease transfer points such as doorknobs and faucet handles.

More Tips for Staying Healthy

Outbreaks of viruses like the swine flu remind us that we cannot clean our way out of disease. Getting rid of disease takes a complete approach that not only works to remove disease-causing pathogens from surfaces, but also educates people on how to keep their immune systems strong and capable of fighting disease when exposed.
Additionally, a healthy workforce is important to all of us. Here are some important tips to share with your employees that can help keep them healthy:

- Get plenty of rest - hard to do with the demands of modern life, but 7 to 8 hours
of sleep on a regular basis will do wonders for your immune system
- Avoid working your people on double shifts - exhaustion will open them up to
- Send workers home at first signs of being sick - the occasional worker taking
advantage of this is less costly than 50% of your work force coming down with
the flu!
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly
- Stay physically active - exercise heats up your body and blood acting as a sort
of cleansing process, flushing out harmful pathogens
- Drink plenty of fluids at all times, not just when sick
- Eat nutritious food
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick