The Bugs of Fall

September 24, 2018 / Infection Control

I can tell you my love for you will still be strong
After the boys of summer have gone
-Don Henley

Anyone remember the song The Boys of Summer by Don Henley? We are going to move away from our summer jaunts to focus on the Bugs of Fall. It is that time of year again! Cooler nights, shorter days, kids back at school and infections and infestations that come with Fall.

Influenza

The CDC reports that the 2017-2018 season was one of the worst flu seasons on record. The full report is available on the CDC website, but here are some of the highlights of the report.

  • The 2017-2018 influenza season was a high severity season with high levels of outpatient clinic and emergency department visits for influenza-like illness (ILI), and high influenza-related hospitalization rates.
  • It was the first season to be classified as high severity across all age groups.
  • As of the end of August, 180 pediatric deaths had been reported. This number exceeds the previously highest number of 171 for flu-associated deaths in children during a regular flu season.
  • Approximately 80% of these deaths occurred in children who had not received a flu vaccination this season.

It is very important to provide the flu shot and encourage workers to get it. Educate patients about the value and need for this protective measure. Don’t forget the importance of hand hygiene, the use of masks, and surface disinfection in reducing the spread of infection. For detailed information about the vaccine for upcoming season, visit the CDC’s Frequently Asked Questions page.

Head Lice

These parasitic insects who live on human blood are usually found on the head around the hairline and behind the ears. Infestation most frequently occurs among children in childcare and in elementary schools along with those living in the home of the impacted child. Keep in mind that head lice move by crawling, as they cannot hop or fly and are spread through direct contact with the hair of the infested person. While uncommon, infestation can spread by contact with hats or scarves, or personal care items such as combs or brushes.

After diagnosis and treatment of an infested person in the practice or facility the following steps can be followed.

  • Hard surfaces – Lice will not grow or survive on them, therefore there is no special treatment needed other than cleaning and surface disinfecting with an EPA approved hospital disinfectant.
  • Clothing/Linens – Wash in hot water, and dry on high heat.
  • Furniture/carpeting – Vacuum to remove any of the infested person’s hair which may have viable nits attached.

Pertussis

This illness, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by Bordetella pertussis and is spread by coughing and sneezing. It is estimated that a person with pertussis could infect up to 12 – 15 other people. Of course, vaccination is the best protection. Healthcare providers should receive a single dose of Tdap. This vaccination is important both to you and to patients you care for. Appropriate follow-up by a healthcare provider is indicated if exposed, even if you have received the vaccine.

When caring for patients who have any type of respiratory illness, Respiratory Hygiene and Cough Etiquette measures must be utilized, as well as appropriate surface disinfection after care.

Good bye Summer! We are ready for you Bugs of Fall!

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