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Infectious Disease: Break cycle and spread of flu

February 2014
BY Martie Moore, R.N., MAOM, CPHQ, Chief Nursing Officer, Medline Industries, Inc.

We all know the flu is unpredictable. And this year, experts say adults typically considered young and healthy should take extra notice. Almost twice as many people between the ages of 18 and 64 are being hospitalized with flu-related symptoms this year compared to last year – 61 percent versus 34 percent. And it’s far from over.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this year’s flu outbreak recently reached epidemic levels. Texas is among 41 states reporting widespread activity. In fact, the Houston Department of Health and Human Services recently reported a six percent increase in the number of flu test positives between the second and third weeks of January.

Now, more than ever, people need to break their cold and flu prevention routine.

When you think of flu prevention, thoughts of flu shots and good hand hygiene probably come to mind. But it shouldn't stop there. A new product called the Curad Antiviral Face Mask is the first product of its kind that actually inactivates 99.99 percent of laboratory-tested flu viruses, including imminent pandemic and seasonal strains of influenza (flu) viruses, such as Avian flu, H3N2 and H1N1, this year’s dominant flu strain in the United States.

This new antiviral face mask is a new line of defense offering more protection than ever before. Three simple, safe and natural ingredients – citric acid, zinc and copper – work together to inactivate flu viruses. The mask’s outer layer has a specially-designed coating made with citric acid. When droplets land there, two things happen: they’re wicked away from the surface while low pH in the citric acid begins to inactivate viruses on contact. Whatever isn’t inactivated is then absorbed into the mask’s inner blue layer. There, any remaining viruses are inactivated by copper and zinc…which are safe and healthy for us but toxic to pathogens.

The CDC recommends that doctors and hospitals provide their flu patients with face masks to help protect others with whom they come in contact, especially at-risk groups such as children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with compromised immunities. Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles currently uses the antiviral face mask proactively on any incoming patients. They join dozens of physician offices and clinics across the country – including here in Texas – that use this product as a direct and effective tool for protection.

It’s also interesting to note that family members of children with flu-like illnesses who used masks properly were 80 percent less likely to be diagnosed with the illness, according to an article published in the International Journal of Infectious Disease.

The face mask is a quick, easy and direct way people can stop the spread of disease and is ideal for parents, caregivers, travelers, and those with compromised immune systems or just feel vulnerable in public places. With the flu season approaching its typical peak, we can all do our part to break the cycle and spread.

To my own parents, family and patients, it’s always my advice to “shake it up.” Here are easy ways to help fend off the flu:

Plan Errands: When planning errands or meeting up with friends, avoid crowds by scheduling activities during off-peak times. For example, hit the grocery store early in the morning or late in the evening.

Hand Check: How many times have you washed or sanitized your hands after riding the escalator or elevator? Easy to overlook but definitely worth doing when you consider that some viruses can live two hours or longer on inanimate objects.

Rest Up, Rev Up: Remember to take care of yourself by getting sleep and taking Vitamin C. Staying hydrated and staying away from white sugars and white flours are also good ideas.

If You’re Sick, Stay Home: If you’re running a fever and not feeling well, do yourself, your co-workers and community a favor and stay home.

These are safe, simple and easy steps we can incorporate into our everyday lifestyle to help us lead healthier lives this season.