Time to ramp up surface disinfection as hospitals are hit by early flu season outbreak

Complications from the flu can include serious conditions, like pneumonia or heart attacks and, in some cases, death. Flu causes about 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths in Canada each year. Some people are more vulnerable to complications and hospitalization from the flu.

  • Babies under 6 months old are too young to get the flu shot, but they'll get some protection if their parent got the flu shot while they were pregnant.
  • Children under 5 years of age, because their immune systems are developing, and their airways are small and more easily blocked.
  • People 65 years old and older, because their immune systems are weaker and they are more likely to have an underlying condition that increases their risk
  • Pregnant people, because their immune system, heart and lungs change – especially later in pregnancy – making it harder for them to fight infection
  • People with underlying health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes1.

Influenza hospitalizations for Canadians under 16 as reported by the Immunization Monitoring Program Active (IMPACT)3 network have hit levels not normally seen until late December, a full four to six weeks earlier than in recent years.

Coupled with a recent deadly outbreak in the U.S. of adenoviruses — a group of viruses that can cause serious respiratory illness in children — it's becoming more important than ever to ensure hospitals are using the right infection prevention measures. The cases of adenovirus are on an increase in Canada too.

"The adenovirus is definitely a concern, especially for children," says Barley Chironda Infection Control Specialist at Clorox® Healthcare.

The absence of a cure means the focus is currently on preventing the spread of the bacteria that causes it, a bacteria not all disinfectants are designed to target.

Clorox® Professional Products Canada has bolstered its own research surrounding microbiology, sporicidal agents and infection prevention, to develop a suite of Health Canada approved disinfecting sprays and ready-to-use wipes and sanitizers with broad-spectrum virucidal efficacy. And they work quickly with pathogen kill times as low as 30 seconds.

"Consistent cleaning, our hands and disinfecting hard surfaces, that's one of the best ways to stay safe," says Chironda.

There is sporadic activity of flu outbreak throughout Canada with highly localized activities in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and PEI.6

This year's early spike in the flu is significant given that the busiest time for hospitals is Late-December to Mid-January, which often sees an influx of patients alongside overtired and overworked staff makes everyone more vulnerable.

"There's typically a spike in HAI's (hospital acquired infections) at this time," says Chironda pointing to the second and third weeks of December. "If you look at previous years, that's the peak, we know it's going to ramp up."

And while many of the pathogens causing these HAIs can be fought with proper containment strategies and disinfecting products, self-sanitizing practices often slip the mind.

"It's simple to do it, but it's complex to incorporate into daily repertoire and that's why people don't do it," says Chironda.

The flu, which is especially dangerous for people with weakened immune systems, including children under three-years-old and people over 65-years-old, can live on hard surfaces for up to 24 hours, according to the National Health Service in the United Kingdom7.

As per the Government of Canada, always clean and disinfect surfaces and shared items. Viruses can live for up to 48 hours on hard surfaces like countertops, door handles, computer keyboards and phones.1, 2

"I like the convenience of a hand sanitizer and ready to use wipes – that simplicity of being able to clear cold and flu viruses that, if left unattended, linger in the environment for long periods of time," says Chironda. "The viruses will change year-to-year, they will adapt, they will figure out how to outsmart us, but the basics of cleaning and disinfection will stay true."

—Clorox Professional Products Company

—AB

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