Prepare For Flu and Other Viral Outbreaks
Coronavirus, which causes a respiratory illness known as COVID-19, is striking fear around the globe as the number of confirmed cases and deaths continue to rise.
Like most viral infections, coronavirus spreads from person to person and primarily by respiratory transmission—coughing, sneezing or through saliva or mucus on unwashed hands.
Despite its rapid spread, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still consider the risk of coronavirus to the general U.S. public to be much lower than the influenza virus. Thus far during the 2019-2020 flu season, some 16,000 people have died and 280,000 have been hospitalized in the U.S. alone.
Since adults 65 years and older, along with young children and pregnant women, have the highest risks of virus-related complications, Notre Dame Health System remains diligent in safeguarding the health of residents, employees and visitors.
Precautions that seniors can take against the flu include:
- Getting the flu vaccine;
- Washing your hands often; germs can live on surfaces such as doorknobs, handrails and countertops for up to two hours;
- Keeping your hands away from your face; touching your eyes, nose and mouth can quickly spread germs into your respiratory and mucus membranes;
- Avoiding crowded public places; when you are in crowds, carry hand sanitizers;
- Increasing your immunity with Vitamin C; foods and supplements high in Vitamin C can help boost your immunity and reduce cold and flu symptoms.
Residential facilities at Chateau de Notre Dame, Wynhoven Health Care Center and Our Lady of Wisdom are actively monitored for patients—and employees—showing signs or symptoms of the flu and other respiratory illnesses.
Dr. Hector Cabrera, a medical director for Notre Dame Health System, explains that elderly patients often show atypical signs of influenza, such as behavior changes, rather than typical symptoms such as fever, cough or sore throat.
Because of often comprised immune systems in the elderly, Dr. Cabrera advises anyone with any type of illness symptoms to refrain from visiting the residential facilities until they are well. He also suggests that visitors consider not bringing children into the nursing homes during flu and cold season.
Just as the CDC recommends, Dr. Cabrera says the best protection measures against an outbreak of any type viral infection are:
- Personal measures such as cough and hand hygiene—cough into the bend of your arm rather than your hand and wash your hands routinely with soap to prevent disease and spreading germs to others. Here’s a video on how to properly wash your hands: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZw4Ga3jg3E. Remember to wash for at least 20 seconds or as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
- Social distancing measures—if you’re sick, stay away from others;
- Environmental measures—cleaning surfaces regularly to get rid of germs; when flushing toilets, turning on faucets or handling doorknobs in public places, avoid using your hands if possible.