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Infection prevention is top priority during flu season

A Methodist Health family physician and infection preventionist offer tips on how to break the chain of infection.

The old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” is never truer than now as we approach flu season.

John Lee, D.O., Methodist Family Medicine - Atkinson, encourages his patients to stay up to date on vaccines, including the flu shot. “Vaccinations protect us from serious illness and complications of vaccine preventable diseases. Everyone six months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season. While it can cause mild to severe illness, it can sometimes be fatal, especially in those with multiple medical conditions.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), rates of serious illness and death are highest among the very young (under 2 years of age), the elderly (adults age 65 and over), pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems and/or chronic medical conditions. “These might include asthma, heart disease, diabetes, renal disease, cancer and those who have invasive medical devices,” Dr. Lee added.

He also offered tips on how to stay well during flu season. “Cover your cough and sneezes, which can spread flu and other viruses, and stay home when you are sick,” he said. “It’s important to clean and disinfect your environment, too.”

“Everyone knows that germs in our environments can cause illnesses and diseases,” said Michele Daum, BSN, Infection Preventionist at Methodist Health. “However, we can prevent them from infecting more people by working together to break the chain of infection.”

Daum noted there are multiple points at which the chain can be broken and a germ can be stopped from infecting another person.

The number one way to keep germs from spreading is hand hygiene. “Keeping your hands clean through hand washing or using an alcohol based hand sanitizer is the number one way to prevent the spread of infection,” she said.

“Germs live in multiple places in the environment, including on people, animals, insects and common surfaces, and in soil and water,” Daum continued. “Germs are transferred or passed on from these environments through direct or indirect contact. Direct contact may occur through inhalation, such as when an individual coughs or sneezes. Indirect contact may occur when an individual has an open wound and touches a contaminated surface.”

Methodist Health recently celebrated International Infection Prevention Week, established in 1986 as an annual effort to highlight the importance of infection prevention. “Although it is a week-long focus, infection prevention is important 365 days a year,” Daum stressed. “As Infection Preventionists, we strive to keep healthcare environments, patients, visitors, employees, volunteers and our communities safe.

“Everyone has a role in preventing the spread of infections. We must remember to be smart – always practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated, encourage others to do the same and utilize antibiotics wisely.”

For questions regarding this press release, please contact Brandi L. Schwartz at 270-831-7836 or bschwartz@methodisthospital.net.