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    Flu

    • Flu Vaccine? More do it now than in the past

      Flu vaccine is produced by private manufacturers, so supply depends on manufacturers. For this season, manufacturers have projected they will provide between 171 to 179 million doses of vaccine for the U.S. market. (Projections may change as the season progresses.) Read more about the Flu this year.

      Seasonal Influenza Vaccine & Total Doses Distributed

      2015-16 Seasonal Influenza Vaccine—Total Doses Distributed

      Flu-Vaccine-DOses2015-16 Total Doses Distributed
      01/29/2016 ≈ 146.0 million doses
      01/22/2016 ≈ 145.8 million doses
      01/15/2016 ≈ 145.6 million doses
      01/08/2016 ≈ 145.4 million doses
      01/01/2016 ≈ 144.9 million doses
      12/11/2015 ≈ 143.3 million doses
      12/04/2015 ≈ 142.0 million doses
      11/27/2015 ≈ 140.5 million doses
      11/13/2015 ≈ 132.7 million doses
      10/30/2015 ≈ 123.7 million doses
      10/23/2015 ≈ 118.2 million doses
      10/09/2015 ≈ 109.4 million doses
      10/02/2015 ≈ 98.5 million doses
      9/25/2015 ≈ 92.3 million doses
      9/18/2015 ≈ 76.1 million doses
      9/11/2015 ≈ 65.1 million doses
      9/04/2015 ≈ 40.7 million doses

    • Flu on the Rise

      FluView-2016While it had a slow start this year, the Flu Season is definitely here and cases are on the rise.

      The most recent reports shows increasing flu activity in the US. Additional increases in activity are expected in the coming weeks. Flu activity most often peaks in February and can last into May. It is not too late to get your flu vaccine this season. Flu vaccines this season have been updated to better match circulating viruses and most circulating viruses so far are still like the recommended vaccine viruses for this season.

      Meds help treat Cough & Cold Symptoms

      The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older. Vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors' visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. More than 146.0 million doses of flu vaccine have been distributed in the United States. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for protection to set in, making now the perfect time to get vaccinated. Find a Vaccine.

      Cold and Cough Sinus and Nasal Decongestant Tablets, Cold Plus no PSE & Tablets comparable to Tylenol Cold and Cough available in bulk, dispenser boxes and single use packets.

    • Preparing Workplaces for an Influenza Pandemic

      We've been so focused on cold weather, we haven't shared a lot about Cold & Flu yet this season... Remember that Seasonal Flu can be serious, and can spread through the workplace rapidly.

      The flu vaccine is your best defense against seasonal flu. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get the flu vaccine.
      While this year the Flu has been moderate in it's spread, you should still use the Flu Vaccine Finder to find a flu vaccine location near you.

      Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for an Influenza Pandemic

      OSHA 3327-02N 2007
      Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's employees by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health.

      This handbook provides a general overview of a particular topic related to OSHA standards. It does not alter or determine compliance responsibilities in OSHA standards or the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. Because interpretations and en-forcement policy may change over time, you should consult current OSHA administrative interpretations and decisions by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and the Courts for additional guidance on OSHA compliance requirements.

      A pandemic influenza will have little direct impact on the physical infrastructure of America’s Critical Infrastructure/Key Resource sectors, but could have a devastating impact on America’s workforce.  Anticipating and planning for a potential 40 percent reduction in the workforce for up to two weeks (and significant absenteeism for up to 12 weeks) will be critical to ensure that essential services are maintained.

      Voluntary Isolation/Voluntary Home Quarantine

      Voluntary isolation means all persons with confirmed or suspected pandemic influenza remain at home or within a healthcare setting; voluntary home quarantine means members of households with confirmed or suspected influenza stay at home.

      Social Distancing of Adults in the Community and Workplace 

      Social distancing of adults in the community and workplace may include canceling large public gatherings, altering workplace environments, and instituting flexible leave policies.

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has developed interim planning guidance for implementing community mitigation strategies in the home, school, workplace and community to reduce pandemic influenza transmission.  These strategies are divided into four broad categories:  voluntary isolation, voluntary home quarantine, child social distancing (including dismissing children from school and child care), and social distancing of adults in the workplace and community.  The strategies challenge employers and their human resources professionals to consider the best planning and response in advance of a pandemic. This document (www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/community/commitigation.html) offers answers to many questions the U.S. business community may have regarding the impact of community mitigation strategies on the workplace.

      As an overall matter, employers should be guided in their relationship with their employees not only by federal employment law, but by their own employee handbooks, manuals, and contracts (including bargaining agreements), and by any applicable state or local laws.

      How a Severe Pandemic Influenza Could Affect Workplaces

      Unlike natural disasters or terrorist events, an influenza pandemic will be widespread, affecting multiple areas of the United States and other countries at the same time. A pandemic will also be an extended event, with multiple waves of outbreaks in the same geographic area; each outbreak could last from 6 to 8 weeks. Waves of outbreaks may occur over a year or more. Your workplace will likely experience:

      • Absenteeism - A pandemic could affect as many as 40 percent of the workforce during periods of peak influenza illness. Employees could be absent because they are sick, must care for sick family members or for children if schools or day care centers are closed, are afraid to come to work, or the employer might not be notified that the employee has died.
      • Change in patterns of commerce - During a pandemic, consumer demand for items related to infection control is likely to increase dramatically, while consumer interest in other goods may decline. Consumers may also change the ways in which they shop as a result of the pandemic. Consumers may try to shop at off-peak hours to reduce contact with other people, show increased interest in home delivery services, or prefer other options, such as drive-through service, to reduce person-to-person contact.
      • Interrupted supply/delivery - Shipments of items from those geographic areas severely affected by the pandemic may be delayed or cancelled.

      Who Should Plan for a Pandemic

      To reduce the impact of a pandemic on your operations, employees, customers and the general public, it is important for all businesses and organizations to begin continuity planning for a pandemic now. Lack of continuity planning can result in a cascade of failures as employers attempt to address challenges of a pandemic with insufficient resources and employees who might not be adequately trained in the jobs they will be asked to perform. Proper planning will allow employers to better protect their employees and prepare for changing patterns of commerce and potential disruptions in supplies or services. Important tools for pandemic planning for employers are located at www.pandemicflu.gov.

      The U.S. government has placed a special emphasis on supporting pandemic influenza planning for public and private sector businesses deemed to be critical industries and key resources (CI/KR). Critical infrastructure are the thirteen sectors that provide the production of essential goods and services, interconnectedness and operability, public safety, and security that contribute to a strong national defense and thriving economy. Key resources are facilities, sites, and groups of organized people whose destruction could cause large-scale injury, death, or destruction of property and/or profoundly damage our national prestige and confidence. With 85 percent of the nation's critical infrastructure in the hands of the private sector, the business community plays a vital role in en-suring national pandemic preparedness and response. Additional guidance for CI/KR business is available at: www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/pdf/CIKRpandemicInfluenzaGuide.pdf.

      Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources
      Key Resources

      • Government Facilities
      • Dams
      • Commercial Facilities
      • Nuclear Power Plants
      • Critical Infrastructure
      • Food and Agriculture
      • Public Health and Healthcare
      • Banking and Finance
      • Chemical and Hazardous Materials
      • Defense Industrial Base
      • Water
      • Energy
      • Emergency Services
      • Information Technology
      • Telecommunications
      • Postal and Shipping
      • Transportation
      • National Monuments and Icons

      How Influenza Can Spread Between People

      Influenza is thought to be primarily spread through large droplets (droplet transmission) that directly contact the nose, mouth or eyes. These droplets are produced when infected people cough, sneeze or talk, sending the relatively large infectious droplets and very small sprays (aerosols) into the nearby air and into contact with other people. Large droplets can only travel a limited range; therefore, people should limit close contact (within 6 feet) with others when possible. To a lesser degree, human influenza is spread by touching objects contaminated with influenza viruses and then transferring the infected material from the hands to the nose, mouth or eyes. Influenza may also be spread by very small infectious particles (aerosols) traveling in the air. The contribution of each route of exposure to influenza transmission is uncertain at this time and may vary based upon the characteristics of the influenza strain.

      Classifying Employee Exposure to Pandemic Influenza at Work

      Employee risks of occupational exposure to influenza during a pandemic may vary from very high to high, medium, or lower (caution) risk. The level of risk depends in part on whether or not jobs require close proximity to people potentially infected with the pandemic influenza virus, or whether they are required to have either repeated or extended contact with known or suspected sources of pandemic influenza virus such as coworkers, the general public, outpatients, school children or other such individuals or groups.

      • Very high exposure risk occupations are those with high potential exposure to high concentrations of known or suspected sources of pandemic influenza during specific medical or laboratory procedures.
      • High exposure risk occupations are those with high potential for exposure to known or suspected sources of pandemic influenza virus.
      • Medium exposure risk occupations include jobs that require frequent, close contact (within 6 feet) exposures to known or suspected sources of pandemic influenza virus such as coworkers, the general public, outpatients, school children or other such individuals or groups.
      • Lower exposure risk (caution) occupations are those that do not require contact with people known to be infected with the pandemic virus, nor frequent close contact (within 6 feet) with the public. Even at lower risk levels, however, employers should be cautious and develop preparedness plans to minimize employee infections.

      Employers of critical infrastructure and key resource employees (such as law enforcement, emergency response, or public utility employees) may consider upgrading protective measures for these employees beyond what would be suggested by their exposure risk due to the necessity of such services for the functioning of society as well as the potential difficulties in replacing them during a pandemic (for example, due to extensive training or licensing requirements).

      To help employers determine appropriate work practices and precautions, OSHA has divided workplaces and work operations into four risk zones, according to the likelihood of employees' occupational exposure to pandemic influenza. We show these zones in the shape of a pyramid to represent how the risk will likely be distributed (see page 11). The vast majority of American workplaces are likely to be in the medium exposure risk or lower exposure risk (caution) groups.

      Occupational Risk Pyramid for Pandemic InfluenzaFlu-Pyramid

      Very High Exposure Risk:

      • Healthcare employees (for example, doctors, nurses, dentists) performing aerosol-generating procedures on known or suspected pandemic patients (for example, cough induction procedures, bronchoscopies, some dental procedures, or invasive specimen collection).
      • Healthcare or laboratory personnel collecting or handling specimens from known or suspected pandemic patients (for example, manipulating cultures from known or suspected pandemic influenza patients).

      High Exposure Risk:

      • Healthcare delivery and support staff exposed to known or suspected pandemic patients (for example, doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff that must enter patients' rooms).
      • Medical transport of known or suspected pandemic patients in enclosed vehicles (for example, emergency medical technicians).
      • Performing autopsies on known or suspected pandemic patients (for example, morgue and mortuary employees).

      Medium Exposure Risk:

      • Employees with high-frequency contact with the general population (such as schools, high population density work environments, and some high volume retail).

      Lower Exposure Risk (Caution):

      • Employees who have minimal occupational contact with the general public and other coworkers (for example, office employees).

      How to Maintain Operations During a Pandemic

      As an employer, you have an important role in protecting employee health and safety, and limiting the impact of an influenza pandemic. It is important to work with community planners to integrate your pandemic plan into local and state planning, particularly if your operations are part of the nation's critical infrastructure or key resources. Integration with local community planners will allow you to access resources and information promptly to maintain operations and keep your employees safe.

      Develop a Disaster Plan

      Develop a disaster plan that includes pandemic preparedness (See www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/businesschecklist.html) and review it and conduct drills regularly.

      • Be aware of and review federal, state and local health department pandemic influenza plans. Incorporate appropriate actions from these plans into workplace disaster plans.
      • Prepare and plan for operations with a reduced workforce.
      • Work with your suppliers to ensure that you can continue to operate and provide services.
      • Develop a sick leave policy that does not penalize sick employees, thereby encouraging employees who have influenza-related symptoms (e.g., fever, headache, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, or upset stomach) to stay home so that they do not infect other employees. Recognize that employees with ill family members may need to stay home to care for them.
      • Identify possible exposure and health risks to your employees. Are employees potentially in contact with people with influenza such as in a hospital or clinic? Are your employees expected to have a lot of contact with the general public?
      • Minimize exposure to fellow employees or the public. For example, will more of your employees work from home? This may require enhancement of technology and communications equipment.
      • Identify business-essential positions and people required to sustain business-necessary functions and operations. Prepare to cross-train or develop ways to function in the absence of these positions. It is recommended that employers train three or more employees to be able to sustain business-necessary functions and operations, and communicate the expectation for available employees to perform these functions if needed during a pandemic.
      • Plan for downsizing services but also anticipate any scenario which may require a surge in your services.
      • Recognize that, in the course of normal daily life, all employees will have non-occupational risk factors at home and in community settings that should be reduced to the extent possible. Some employees will also have individual risk factors that should be considered by employers as they plan how the organization will respond to a potential pandemic (e.g., immuno-compromised individuals and pregnant women).
      • Stockpile items such as soap, tissue, hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies and recommended personal protective equipment. When stockpiling items, be aware of each product's shelf life and storage conditions (e.g., avoid areas that are damp or have temperature extremes) and incorporate product rotation (e.g., consume oldest supplies first) into your stockpile management program.
        Make sure that your disaster plan protects and supports your employees, customers and the general public. Be aware of your employees' concerns about pay, leave, safety and health. Informed employees who feel safe at work are less likely to be absent.
      • Develop policies and practices that distance employees from each other, customers and the general public. Consider practices to minimize face-to-face contact between employees such as e-mail, websites and teleconferences. Policies and practices that allow employees to work from home or to stagger their work shifts may be important as absenteeism rises.
      • Organize and identify a central team of people or focal point to serve as a communication source so that your employees and customers can have accurate information during the crisis.
      • Work with your employees and their union(s) to address leave, pay, transportation, travel, childcare, absence and other human resource issues.
      • Provide your employees and customers in your workplace with easy access to infection control supplies, such as soap, hand sanitizers, personal protective equipment (such as gloves or surgical masks), tissues, and office cleaning supplies.
      • Provide training, education and informational material about business-essential job functions and employee health and safety, including proper hygiene practices and the use of any personal protective equipment to be used in the workplace. Be sure that informational material is available in a usable format for individuals with sensory disabilities and/or limited English proficiency. Encourage employees to take care of their health by eating right, getting plenty of rest and getting a seasonal flu vaccination.
      • Work with your insurance companies, and state and local health agencies to provide information to employees and customers about medical care in the event of a pandemic.
      • Assist employees in managing additional stressors related to the pandemic. These are likely to include distress related to personal or family illness, life disruption, grief related to loss of family, friends or coworkers, loss of routine support systems, and similar challenges. Assuring timely and accurate communication will also be important throughout the duration of the pandemic in decreasing fear or worry. Employers should provide opportunities for support, counseling, and mental health assessment and referral should these be necessary. If present, Employee Assistance Programs can offer training and provide resources and other guidance on mental health and resiliency before and during a pandemic.

      Protect Employees and Customers

      Educate and train employees in proper hand hygiene, cough etiquette and social distancing techniques. Understand and develop work practice and engineering controls that could provide additional protection to your employees and customers, such as: drive-through service windows, clear plastic sneeze barriers, ventilation, and the proper selection, use and disposal of personal protective equipment.

      These are not comprehensive recommendations. The most important part of pandemic planning is to work with your employees, local and state agencies and other employers to develop cooperative pandemic plans to maintain your operations and keep your employees and the public safe. Share what you know, be open to ideas from your employees, then identify and share effective health practices with other employers in your community and with your local chamber of commerce.

      Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - While administrative and engineering controls and proper work practices are considered to be more effective in minimizing exposure to the influenza virus, the use of PPE may also be indicated during certain exposures. If used correctly, PPE can help prevent some exposures; however, they should not take the place of other prevention interventions, such as engineering controls, cough etiquette, and hand hygiene (see www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/stopgerms.htm). Examples of personal protective equipment are gloves, goggles, face shields, surgical masks, and respirators (for example, N-95). It is important that personal protective equipment be:

      • Selected based upon the hazard to the employee;
      • Properly fitted and some must be periodically refitted (e.g., respirators);
      • Conscientiously and properly worn;
      • Regularly maintained and replaced, as necessary;
      • Properly removed and disposed of to avoid contamination of self, others or the environment.

      Employers are obligated to provide their employees with protective gear needed to keep them safe while performing their jobs. The types of PPE recommended for pandemic influenza will be based on the risk of contracting influenza while working and the availability of PPE.

      SneezerSteps Every Employer Can Take to Reduce the Risk of Exposure to Pandemic Influenza in Their Workplace

      The best strategy to reduce the risk of becoming infected with influenza during a pandemic is to avoid crowded settings and other situations that increase the risk of exposure to someone who may be infected. If it is absolutely necessary to be in a crowded setting, the time spent in a crowd should be as short as possible. Some basic hygiene (see www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/stopgerms.htm) and social distancing precautions that can be implemented in every workplace include the following:

      • Meds help treat Cough & Cold Symptoms Meds help treat Cough & Cold Symptoms

        Encourage sick employees to stay at home.

      • Encourage your employees to wash their hands frequently with soap and water or with hand sanitizer if there is no soap or water available. Also, encourage your employees to avoid touching their noses, mouths, and eyes.
      • Encourage your employees to cover their coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or to cough and sneeze into their upper sleeves if tissues are not available. All employees should wash their hands or use a hand sanitizer after they cough, sneeze or blow their noses.
      • Employees should avoid close contact with their coworkers and customers (maintain a separation of at least 6 feet). They should avoid shaking hands and always wash their hands after contact with others. Even if employees wear gloves, they should wash their hands upon removal of the gloves in case their hand(s) became contaminated during the removal process.
      • Provide customers and the public with tissues and trash receptacles, and with a place to wash or disinfect their hands.
      • Keep work surfaces, telephones, computer equipment and other frequently touched surfaces and office equipment clean. Be sure that any cleaner used is safe and will not harm your employees or your office equipment. Use only disinfectants registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and follow all directions and safety precautions indicated on the label.
      • Discourage your employees from using other employees' phones, desks, offices or other work tools and equipment.
      • Minimize situations where groups of people are crowded together, such as in a meeting. Use e-mail, phones and text messages to communicate with each other. When meetings are necessary, avoid close contact by keeping a separation of at least 6 feet, where possible, and assure that there is proper ventilation in the meeting room.
      • Reducing or eliminating unnecessary social interactions can be very effective in controlling the spread of infectious diseases. Reconsider all situations that permit or require employees, customers, and visitors (including family members) to enter the workplace. Workplaces which permit family visitors on site should consider restricting/eliminating that option during an influenza pandemic. Work sites with on-site day care should consider in advance whether these facilities will remain open or will be closed, and the impact of such decisions on employees and the business.
      • Promote healthy lifestyles, including good nutrition, exercise, and smoking cessation. A person's overall health impacts their body's immune system and can affect their ability to fight off, or recover from, an infectious disease.

      Unless otherwise noted, material presented on the PandemicFlu.gov Web site is considered federal government information and is in the public domain. That means this information may be freely copied and distributed. We request that you use appropriate attribution to PandemicFlu.gov.

      Information Disclaimer

      The information provided using this web site is only intended to be general summary information to the public. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations.

    • Seasonal Flu

      Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated guidance for protecting individuals from seasonal flu. Seasonal Flu

      Precautions for All Workers during Flu Season

      The best way to reduce your risk of exposure to the flu virus in your workplace is to use the basic hygiene precautions listed below and to avoid close contact with ill people. If your job involves contact with patients or other healthcare services, then you may need to take additional precautions. Precautions for healthcare workers are addressed separately.

      Pandemic flu remains a concern for workers and employers. A pandemic can occur at any time and can be mild, moderate, or severe. The pandemic in 2009 was considered by CDC to be mild but it still created challenges for employers and showed that many workplaces were not prepared. The precautions identified in this guidance provide a baseline for workplace precautions during a seasonal flu outbreak, but they may not be enough to protect you during a pandemic. Your employer’s pandemic flu plan should be based on a “worst-case” scenario – one in which the virus causes severe illness and death in larger numbers of people. Planning for the worst-case ensures that employers will have the right type of equipment and enough of it on hand to protect you. It also ensures that employers have planned for additional control options so that they can pick the right combination for the specific pandemic flu virus. You may have additional planning considerations too. For example, you may need to think about what you’ll do if schools and daycare facilities are closed. For additional information on pandemic flu planning, see How to Protect Yourself in the Workplace during a Pandemic and the planning resources for the community on Flu.gov.

    • Getting Chilly

      It's time to start bundling up. Fall is beautiful, but is the doorway to Winter and brings escalating health and safety concerns.

      Frostbite and Hypothermia can even occur in Summer, so it should certainly be a concern in Autumn. Cozy Fires bring burn and fire safety risks. Of course, too - we're now in Flu Season, so consider cold & flu preparation.

      Autumn is a time of beauty and wonder.. plan to enjoy it safely!

      fall-cold

    • Flu Update

      Flu-ViewFlu activity is still  low in the United States, but flu outbreaks can happen as early as October. Flu causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths every season.

      More than 76 million doses of 2015-16 flu vaccine have been distributed so far. This season's vaccines have been updated to better match circulating viruses. CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older. While how well the vaccine works can vary, flu vaccine is the best way to protect against flu. Vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors' visits, and missed work and school, as well as prevent hospitalizations.

      It takes about two weeks after vaccination for protection to set in so start thinking about getting vaccinated now. Find a Vaccine

    • Global Handwashing Day

      Yes, there really is a Global Handwashing Day! It is next Thursday, October 15.

      Why?

      • Handwashing can reduce the number of people who get diarrhea by about 30%.
      • Handwashing helps slow the spread of germs, bacteria, and viruses - Handwashing it critical to stopping pandemics and flu outbreaks.

      Washing your hands should involve these 5 scientifically proven steps:

      Wash Hands1) Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.

      Why? Because hands could become recontaminated if placed in a basin of standing water that has been contaminated through previous use, clean running water should be used. However, washing with non-potable water when necessary may still improve health. The temperature of the water does not appear to affect microbe removal; however, warmer water may cause more skin irritation and is more environmentally costly.

      Turning off the faucet after wetting hands saves water, and there are few data to prove whether significant numbers of germs are transferred between hands and the faucet.

      Using soap to wash hands is more effective than using water alone because the surfactants in soap lift soil and microbes from skin, and people tend to scrub hands more thoroughly when using soap, which further removes germs

      2) Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.

      Why? Lathering and scrubbing hands creates friction, which helps lift dirt, grease, and microbes from skin. Microbes are present on all surfaces of the hand, often in particularly high concentration under the nails, so the entire hand should be scrubbed

      3) Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. 

      Why? Determining the optimal length of time for handwashing is difficult because few studies about the health impacts of altering handwashing times have been done. Of those that exist, nearly all have measured reductions in overall numbers of microbes, only a small proportion of which can cause illness, and have not measured impacts on health. Solely reducing numbers of microbes on hands is not necessarily linked to better health 1. The optimal length of time for handwashing is also likely to depend on many factors, including the type and amount of soil on the hands and the setting of the person washing hands. For example, surgeons are likely to come into contact with disease-causing germs and risk spreading serious infections to vulnerable patients, so they may need to wash hands longer than a woman before she prepares her own lunch at home. Nonetheless, evidence suggests that washing hands for about 15-30 seconds removes more germs from hands than washing for shorter periods

      4) Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.

      Why? Soap and friction help lift dirt, grease, and microbes—including disease-causing germs—from skin so they can then be rinsed off of hands. Rinsing the soap away also minimizes skin irritation. Because hands could become recontaminated if rinsed in a basin of standing water that has been contaminated through previous use, clean running water should be used. While some recommendations include using a paper towel to turn off the faucet after hands have been rinsed, this practice leads to increased use of water and paper towels, and there are no studies to show that it improves health.

      5) Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

      Why? Germs can be transferred more easily to and from wet hands; therefore, hands should be dried after washing. However, the best way to dry hands remains unclear because few studies about hand drying exist, and the results of these studies conflict. Additionally, most of these studies compare overall concentrations of microbes, not just disease-causing germs, on hands following different hand-drying methods. It has not been shown that removing microbes from hands is linked to better health. Nonetheless, studies suggest that using a clean towel or air drying hands are best

      Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water. CDC recommends cleaning hands in a specific way to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. The guidance for effective handwashing and use of hand sanitizer was developed based on data from a number of studies.

      Microbes are all tiny living organisms that may or may not cause disease.

      Germs, or pathogens, are types of microbes that can cause disease.

      Spread the word about how to stop the spread of germs on Global Handwashing Day and every day.

      Celebrate Global Handwashing Day to promote handwashing with soap throughout the world.

      Global Handwashing Day Logo

    • Flu Vaccine not working well this year

      While the flu vaccine is not working as well as usual against some H3N2 viruses, vaccination can still protect some people and reduce hospitalizations and deaths, and will protect against other flu viruses.

      Flu activity is high across most of the country with flu illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths elevated. Flu season will probably continue for several more weeks.

      Influenza antiviral drugs can treat flu illness. CDC recommends these drugs be used to treat people who are very sick or who are at high risk of serious flu complications who have flu symptoms. Early antiviral treatment works best.

      Click on map to launch interactive tool Click on map to launch interactive tool

      Learn more:

      Quick Facts about this Year's Flu:

      • Nineteen influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported the first week of this year.
      • The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was above the epidemic threshold.
      • Of 26,204 specimens tested and reported by U.S. World Health Organization (WHO) and National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System (NREVSS) collaborating laboratories during week 1, 5,284 (20.2%) were positive for influenza.

      The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was 4.4%, above the national baseline of 2.0%. All 10 regions reported ILI at or above region-specific baseline levels. Puerto Rico and 24 states experienced high ILI activity; New York City and seven states experienced moderate ILI activity; seven states experienced low ILI activity; 11 states experienced minimal ILI activity; and the District of Columbia and one state had insufficient data.

      image of germ kit From treating the Common cold or Flu to preparing to reduce risk of exposure to H7N9 Bird Flu, H1N1, Avian Flu, or other pathogens, we have a number of outstanding values for Cleaning, covering, and protecting you from unnecessary exposure. Find Antimicrobial Packs, American Red Cross Germ Guard, N95 Masks, Hand Sanitizers, BZK wipes and much more...

      According to this week’s FluView report, influenza activity in the U.S. remains high but there are early signs that activity has begun to decrease in parts of the country. While influenza-like-illness (ILI) and the percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for flu declined in the most recent report, severity indicators used to track hospitalizations and deaths rose sharply. It’s typical for increases in ILI to be followed by increases in hospitalizations and then subsequently increases in deaths. While early data indicates this season’s vaccine is not working as well as usual against circulating H3N2 viruses, CDC continues to recommend vaccination. It’s common for other influenza viruses to circulate later in the season and flu vaccines are designed to protect against three or four influenza viruses. However because the vaccine is offering reduced protection, prompt treatment with flu antiviral drugs for people who are hospitalized, very sick with flu or people who are at high risk of serious flu complications is especially important this season.

      See our Pandemic Preparedness Article ISHN Magazine!

    • Does Cold Cause a Cold?

      Cough-Cold-2Yale researchers released a new study which suggests that cool temperatures can play a role in causing the common cold, by inhibiting the virus-fighting ability of cells in the nose.

      It's a commonly held belief that catching a chill can bring on a nasty cold. However, researchers have long argued the point, noting that people can transmit and catch cold viruses year round. Now, in a paper published in the journal PNAS, a team of researchers studying mice has concluded that most rhinoviruses reproduce more efficiently at temperatures slightly lower than body temperature, or 98.6 degrees.

      So... Stay warm and Stay Well!cold-sniffles

      Does Chilly Weather Really Cause a Cold?

      Sinus and Nasal Decongestant Tablets, Cold Plus no PSE & Tablets comparable to Tylenol Cold and Cough available in boxes and trays.
      Cherry Flavored Sore Throat Lozenges and Cough Drops Provide Temporary Relief from Sore Throats and Coughs. Lozenges and Cough Drops available in various boxes and trays.
    • Snot a fun way to spend the Holidays!

      In much of the Northern Hemisphere, this is prime time for colds, influenza (flu), and other respiratory illnesses. While contagious viruses are active year-round, fall and winter are when we're all most vulnerable to them... Get Set for a Healthy Winter Season

      While contagious viruses are active year-round, fall and winter are when we're most vulnerable to them. This is due in large part to people spending more time indoors with others when the weather gets cold.

      Fortunately, we can fight back with several FDA-approved medicines and vaccines.

      Prevention Tips

      Get vaccinated against flu.

      With rare exceptions, everyone 6 months of age and older should be vaccinated against flu. Flu vaccination, available as a shot or a nasal spray, can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, missed work and school, and prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths.

      It’s ideal to be vaccinated by October, although vaccination into January and beyond can still offer protection. Annual vaccination is needed because flu viruses are constantly changing, flu vaccines may need to be updated, and because a person’s immune protection from the vaccine declines over time. Annual vaccination is especially important for people at high risk for developing serious complications from flu. These people include:

      • young children under 5 years, but especially those younger than 2.
      • pregnant women
      • people with certain chronic health conditions (like asthma, diabetes, or heart and lung disease)
      • people age 65 years and older

      Vaccination also is especially important for health care workers, and others who live with or care for people at high risk for serious flu-related complications. Since babies under 6 months of age are too young to get a flu vaccine, their mother should get a flu shot during her pregnancy to protect them throughout pregnancy and up to 6 months after birth. Additionally, all of the baby’s caregivers and close contacts should be vaccinated as well.

      Wash your hands often. Teach children to do the same. Both colds and flu can be passed through contaminated surfaces, including the hands. FDA says that while soap and water are best for hand hygiene, alcohol-based hand rubs may also be used. However, dirt or blood on hands can render the hand rubs unable to kill bacteria.

      Try to limit exposure to infected people. Keep infants away from crowds for the first few months of life.

      Practice healthy habits.

      • Eat a balanced diet.
      • Get enough sleep.
      • Exercise.
      • Do your best to keep stress in check.

      KleenexAlready Sick?

      Usually, colds have to run their course. Gargling with salt water may relieve a sore throat. And a cool-mist humidifier may help relieve stuffy noses.

      Here are other steps to consider:

      • Call your health care professional. Start the treatment early.
      • Limit your exposure to other people. Cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
      • Stay hydrated and rested. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated products which may dehydrate you.
      • Talk to your health care professional to find out what will work best for you.

      In addition to over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, there are FDA-approved prescription medications for treating flu. Cold and flu complications may include bacterial infections (e.g., bronchitis, sinusitis, ear infections, and pneumonia) that could require antibiotics.

      Taking OTC Products

      Read medicine labels carefully and follow the directions. People with certain health conditions, such as high blood pressure, should check with a health care professional or pharmacist before taking a new cough and cold medicine.

      But Tablets & Medications including NSAIDs at discount and Wholesale Bulk Pricing to the Public (no minimum order required) But Tablets & Medications including NSAIDs at discount and Wholesale Bulk Pricing to the Public (no minimum order required)

      Choose OTC medicines appropriate for your symptoms. To unclog a stuffy nose, use nasal decongestants. Cough suppressants quiet coughs; expectorants loosen mucus; antihistamines help stop a runny nose and sneezing; and pain relievers can ease fever, headaches, and minor aches.

      Check the medicine's side effects. Medications can cause drowsiness and interact with food, alcohol, dietary supplements, and each other. It’s best to tell your health care professional and pharmacist about every medical product and supplement you are taking.

      Check with a health care professional before giving medicine to children.

      See a health care professional if you aren't getting any better. With children, be alert for high fevers and for abnormal behavior such as unusual drowsiness, refusal to eat, crying a lot, holding the ears or stomach, and wheezing.

      Signs of trouble for all people can include

      • a cough that disrupts sleep
      • a fever that won't respond to treatment
      • increased shortness of breath
      • face pain caused by a sinus infection
      • high fever, chest pain, or a difference in the mucus you're producing, after feeling better for a short time.

      This article appears on FDA's Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.

      Sinus and Nasal Decongestant Tablets, Cold Plus no PSE & Tablets comparable to Tylenol Cold and Cough available in boxes and trays. Also read our Flu Blog

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