Avoid the flu!
Avoid the flu!
Monday, November 21, 2011 3:47 PM
No matter the time of year, flu season is occurring somewhere in the world. Crewmembers are especially at risk because of yachts’ confined environments, which are conducive to the spread of communicable disease.
You can start by recognizing the signs and symptoms of the flu and arming yourself with prevention strategies, you can avoid getting sick and spreading it to fellow crewmembers or even guests.
Known commonly as the flu, influenza is a respiratory virus easily spread through coughing, sneezing or talking. Influenza can land on surfaces such as tables, handrails, utensils, glassware and doorknobs. When another person touches those surfaces, then rubs his nose or eyes, he can “self-inoculate” and introduces the virus into his mucous membranes.
In the northern hemisphere, the onset of flu season usually begins in October and increases among the general population until early spring. Meanwhile, the southern hemisphere flu season typically runs from April through September. Therefore, designated medical officers and crew must be aware that flu season is always occurring somewhere in the world.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that healthy adults are able to infect other people with the flu one day before they experience symptoms and five to seven days after getting sick. It is important to recognize the signs of flu and avoid contact with other people to help prevent the spread of this communicable disease.
The most common signs of seasonal influenza, according to the CDC, are:
Body aches and fatigue
· Fever or chills
· Runny or stuffy nose
Many other respiratory illnesses have similar signs and symptoms to the flu, which can cause difficulties distinguishing between a common cold and influenza.
To help prevent influenza, pass on the following advice to your crew:
· Get a flu vaccine
· Avoid close contact with other people who appear to be ill
· Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then throw the tissue away and wash your hands
· Wash your hands frequently with soap/water/friction and use a towel to dry your hands and use a hand gel in between hand washings to clean your hands
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth — viruses are often spread by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching the eyes/nose/mouth
· Clean surfaces frequently —tables, handrails, doorknobs, control panels, phones and keyboards should be cleaned with a disinfectant
· Stay in good health by eating a healthy diet, managing stress, exercising, getting plenty of sleep and avoiding smoking.
Immunizing against influenza
The most efficient way to prevent the flu is to be vaccinated against it. The flu vaccination is especially recommended for crewmembers traveling internationally.
Vaccination must be repeated annually, as flu viruses change rapidly. One year's vaccine is not effective against the viruses that will circulate widely the next year. Flu vaccines usually contain two or three strains of influenza virus that are expected to be most prevalent in the upcoming flu season.
The vaccine is 70 to 90 percent effective in preventing influenza among healthy adults. The vaccine may be less effective in very old and very young people, but it can still help avoid serious complications from the flu.
Stopping the spread of influenza
To help prevent the spread of influenza, advise your crew to take the following steps:
· Isolate the ill crewmember in his/her cabin until symptom-free for 24 hours
· Put on surgical masks when coming into contact with ill crewmembers and have ill crew wear protective items as well
· Minimize the number of personnel directly exposed to the ill person; ideally one caregiver should be designated
· Wear gloves and an N95 mask when interacting with the ill crewmember
· Wash hands with warm soapy water before and after caring for the ill crew (hand sanitizer is an acceptable alternative)
· Designate isolated bathrooms for ill crewmembers — if this is not possible, the facility should be cleaned after each use by the ill crew; this includes wiping down all fixtures with disinfectant
· Dispose of tissues, gloves, masks, etc. as biohazard waste
· Contact your telemedicine provider for management of symptoms.
Don’t let the flu slow down your crew this season. Maintaining good personal hygiene, washing hands frequently and receiving the annual vaccination will go a long way to preventing the spread of influenza on your yacht.
By Patricia M. Campbell an RN, MSN, CCRN, ANP, CS at MedAire. MedAire provides medical advice, training, and medical equipment for crew at sea and ashore. Visit www.medaire.com/yachtlifeline for more information.
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Thursday, November 24, 2011 12:02 PM
Hi Thanks and super information, will print it and post it for all to read in our CREW READING BINDER, plus we will mkae it part of the monthly overall Safety and Wellness Onboard meeting. This is what we do onboard for those who might be coming down with the Flu as we know from the past that it will get most people most of the time and if the crew are reported to be sick in foreign ports it is part of the ships clearnace papers to declare all Illness onboard. Flu Policy for Crew The following will be policy for crew members when a person has flu or is diagnosed by the medical person in charge or a physician, unless this person is admitted to hospital. Symptoms being any or all of the following; Fever over 99.6f, cold sweats, repeated coughing, chest congestion, severe nasal congestion, chronic sneezing, fatigue, body and joint aches, percieved fatigue, inability to follow directions, inability to complete given tasks in the set time frame, signs of exhaustion. If a crew member cannot report to a scheduled watch or work detail they will be considered Incapacitated. The crew member will have the option to either; Take a Captains Grace Day Take a Vacation Day Take a day off without Pay, Failure to report the inability to report to a watch will result in being sent to a shoreside facility for medical examination. Unless. a declaration is made to the captain prior to being declared Incapacitated for inability to show for work. It is the responsibility of the crew member to also make clear to the Captain if they are restricted in ability to perform all duties due to medications or fatigue they need to report any and all limitations to the captain prior to assumption of duties. Other Actions; Person will be quarantined by moving the sick person to move into twin room. Twin room will be stripped of normal bed clothes. All bedclothes in bunk changed daily and washed separately with bleach on sanitary cycle. Daily spray down of interior (entire boat) and air handlers with Lysol. Wipe down all surfaces with disinfectant and or Lysol. Open all doors if possible for several hours each day. Make up and Exhaust air systems will be put into high speed. Face mask the infirmed when out of the room. The infirmed will be hydrated with rehydration salts and or pedialyte and medicated at the discretion or direction of the Medical Person In Charge. No drinking of liquor or other actions, challenging of the immune systems by any crew member until outbreak is over. Shore leave suspended for all crew until examined by Capt or medical person in charge and released. The crew member may be moved to a hospital or motel at the Medical Person In Charge or captains discretion. Thanks Again for the info
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Friday, November 25, 2011 8:49 AM
Steady on there, it's only flu, not the deadly terminal black plague.
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Friday, November 25, 2011 11:44 AM
NAVWARN NAVAREA III.... . IBNA advising of a Wine Flu outbreak in Antibes. Keep a sharp lookout, report all sighting.............. Warnings issued for Ladies night in Palma , fit condoms , several crew down with the dreaded Bird Flu.......Break, more to follow
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