Flu Information for Providers

 

Prevention - Vaccine | Laboratory Diagnosis | Treatment - Antivirals | Infection Control | Outbreak Guidance | Reporting | Flu Activity & Surveillance | Additional Resources

Prevention – Vaccine

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), routine annual flu vaccine is recommended for everyone aged ≥ 6 months. To permit time for production of protective antibody levels, vaccination should optimally occur before onset of influenza activity in the community. Therefore, providers should offer flu vaccine as soon as it is available. Vaccination should be offered throughout the influenza season (as long as influenza viruses are circulating in the community).

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Laboratory Diagnosis

A number of tests can help in the diagnosis of influenza. But, tests do not need to be done on all patients. For individual patients, tests are most useful when they are likely to give a doctor results that will help with diagnosis and treatment decisions. During a respiratory illness outbreak in a closed setting (e.g. hospitals, nursing home, cruise ship, boarding school, summer camp) however, testing for influenza can be very helpful in determining if influenza is the cause of the outbreak.

Testing Guidance

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Treatment – Antivirals

Antiviral medications with activity against influenza viruses are an important adjunct to influenza vaccine in the control of influenza. Clinical and observational data show that early antiviral treatment can shorten the duration of fever and illness symptoms, and reduce the risk of complications from influenza (such as otitis media in young children, pneumonia, respiratory failure, and death) and shorten the duration of hospitalization.

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Infection Control

Preventing transmission of influenza virus and other infectious agents within healthcare settings requires a multi-faceted approach. Spread of influenza virus can occur among patients, HCP, and visitors; in addition, HCP may acquire influenza from persons in their household or community. The core prevention strategies include: administration of influenza vaccine, implementation of respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette, appropriate management of ill HCP, adherence to infection control precautions for all patient-care activities and aerosol-generating procedures, and implementing environmental and engineering infection control measures.

Successful implementation of many, if not all, of these strategies is dependent on the presence of clear administrative policies and organizational leadership that promote and facilitate adherence to these recommendations among the various people within the healthcare setting, including patients, visitors, and HCP.

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Outbreak Guidance

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Reporting

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Flu Activity & Surveillance

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Influenza Division collects and analyzes influenza surveillance data year-round and produces a weekly report on U.S. influenza activity during the influenza season which begins at week 40 each year. The U.S. influenza surveillance system provides information in five categories collected from eight data sources. The five categories of influenza surveillance consist of: (1) Viral Surveillance: U.S. World Health Organization (WHO) collaborating laboratories, the National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System (NREVSS), and human infection with novel influenza A virus case reporting; (2) Mortality: 122 Cities Mortality Reporting System and influenza-associated pediatric mortality; (3) Hospitalizations: Influenza Hospitalization Network (FluSurv-NET) including the Emerging Infections Program (EIP); (4) Outpatient Illness Surveillance: U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network (ILINet); and (5) Summary of geographic spread of influenza: state and territorial epidemiologists’ reports.

Global Flu Activity

The World Health Organization (WHO) influenza surveillance and monitoring activity collects and analyzes virological and epidemiological data from countries, areas and territories around the world. WHO relies on the willing participation of countries to share their influenza surveillance data. The open and transparent sharing of influenza monitoring data by participating countries allows WHO to: (1) provide countries, areas and territories with information about influenza transmission in other parts of the world to allow national policy makers to better prepare for upcoming seasons; (2) provide data for decision making regarding recommendations for vaccination and treatment; (3) describe critical features of influenza epidemiology including risk groups, transmission characteristics, and impact; (4) monitor global trends in influenza transmission; and (5)inform the selection of influenza strains for vaccine production.

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Additional Resources

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