Protected: Flu (Influenza)
What is Flu?
Influenza or ‘flu’ is a respiratory illness associated with infection by influenza virus.
Influenza occurs most often in winter and usually peaks between December and March in the northern hemisphere. There are two main types that cause infection: influenza A and influenza B. Influenza A usually causes a more severe illness. The influenza virus is unstable and new strains and variants are constantly emerging, which is one of the reasons why the flu vaccine should be given each year.
For most people, influenza infection is just a nasty experience, but for some it can lead to more serious illnesses.
Those defined as ‘at risk’ include:
- pregnant women in all stages/ any trimester of pregnancy
- anyone aged over 65 years, even if they feel fit and healthy at the moment
- children and adults who have any of the following medical conditions:
- a chronic chest condition such as asthma
- a chronic heart condition
- chronic liver disease
- chronic kidney disease
- lowered immunity due to disease or treatment such as steroids or cancer therapy (people living in the same house as someone with lowered immunity may also need to be vaccinated)
- a chronic neurological condition such as stroke, multiple sclerosis or a condition that affects your nervous system, such as cerebral palsy, or hereditary and degenerative diseases of the central nervous system or muscles
- any other serious medical condition – check with your doctor if you are unsure
- children who have previously been admitted to hospital with a chest infection
- children attending schools for children with severe learning difficulties
- anyone living in a residential or nursing home
- main carers for older or disabled people
Flu is not just a common cold. Flu is an acute viral infection of the respiratory tract, It usually comes on suddenly, and people with flu may have some or all of the following symptoms:
- Aches (muscle, body, and headaches)
- Tiredness (fatigue)
- Sudden onset
- Cough, runny or stuffy nose, and/or sore throat
- Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults)
How is it spread?
People with flu can spread it to others. Flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze, or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.
- Undertake Hand Hygiene (HH) in accordance with the WHO 5 Moments for HH
- Wear gloves and aprons
- You should wear a Type II FRSM
- Eye protection should be worn if there is a risk of splashes.
- If you are carrying out an aerosol generating procedure such as intubation /extubation, CPR, and suctioning (list not exhaustive) you should wear an FFP3 mask
- Ensure all equipment and the vehicle is thoroughly cleaned using a hypochlorite solution.
Why is this important?
If NIAS staff are aware that the patient has a suspected or confirmed Flu this should be communicated to EAC and ED staff when transferring the patient to ensure effective patient care and management. It also ensures that staff adhere to Droplet precautions to prevent exposure.
It is important that you do not work if you have signs and symptoms of Influenza as the virus is very easily passed on to others.
Do staff need Prophylaxis or follow up?
If you are exposed to a confirmed case of Flu and you fall into any of the at risk categories below you should let your Station Officer / Line Manager know as they will arrange for you to have Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), this however can only be given up to 48hours following exposure.
Contact the IPC team for further advice during working hours.