VIRAL OUTBREAKS: PREPARATION AND PREPAREDNESS
Know the Difference
Influenza, also known as the flu, is a contagious respiratory disease caused by different strains of viruses. In the United States, there is a flu season that begins every fall and ends every spring. The type of flu people get during this season is called seasonal flu. Flu viruses spread from person to person when people who are infected cough or sneeze. Adults may be able to infect others 1 day before getting symptoms and as long as 7 days after getting sick.
COVID-19 is a Coronavirus. Other Coronaviruses include Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). While there is still much to learn about this emerging virus, elderly patients with preexisting conditions do seem to develop more severe cases. It is wise to take some precautions early, as we continue to see how the situation develops. For the most updated information on the current status of COVID-19, visit the Center for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov and/or World Health Organization at www.who.int.
Epidemic – The rapid spread of a disease that affects some or many people in a community or region at the same time.
Pandemic – An outbreak of a disease that affects large numbers of people throughout the world and spreads rapidly.
Seasonal Flu – A contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza (flu) viruses occurring every year. It affects an average of 5% to 20% of the U.S. population by causing mild to severe illness, and in some instances can lead to death.
COVID-19 – Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
During an outbreak, government officials may be required to limit community movement or impose travel restrictions to help prevent the flu virus from spreading. Things to keep in mind:
- You may be asked to stay home for an extended period of time even if you are not sick.
- Schools, workplaces, and public gatherings such as sporting events or worship services may close temporarily.
- Mass transportation such as subways, buses, trains, and air travel may be limited.
- You, your family and friends may need to rely on each other when you cannot depend on the services you normally use
Planning at Home
- Store a two-week supply of food. Select foods that do not require refrigeration, preparation, or cooking. Ensure that formula for infants and any child’s or older person’s special nutritional needs are a part of your planning. Plan for your pets as well.
- Store a two-week supply of water, 1 gallon of water per person per day, in clean plastic containers. Avoid using containers that will decompose or break, such as milk cartons or glass bottles.
- Store a supply of nonprescription drugs, such as pain relievers, cough and cold medicines, stomach remedies and anti-diarrheal medication, as well as vitamins and fluids with electrolytes (such as sports drinks).
- Store health and cleaning supplies, such as bleach, tissues, a thermometer, disposable gloves, soap, and alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
- Ask your health provider and health insurance company if you can get an extra supply of your regular prescription drugs and medical supplies, such as glucose monitoring supplies.
- Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for it they get sick.
Planning at the Worksite
- Place into action a continuity plan due for employee absenteeism – including implementation of a strategy so that critical posts are always covered.
- Regularly review your corporate travel policies
- Maintain regular contact with other company locations and develop a plan so each office can assist one other if necessary.
- Have cleaning agents available to all employees at each worksite.
- Have the emergency contacts list and critical information (client contacts, applicable public health departments, and emergency responders to include police, fire, and paramedics) updated and available for all employees.
The Red Cross and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are offering the following tips to ensure you stay healthy:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are also effective when soap and water aren’t available.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread that way. Try to avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- If you get sick or feel any symptoms that could be from a virus, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
Consult your healthcare provider if you develop symptoms, to include, but not be limited to the following:
- Fever, Cough, Sore throat
- Body aches, Headaches, Chills, Runny or stuffy nose
- Extreme tiredness, Vomiting and/or diarrhea