Even though we are nearing the end of the colder months, we must continue to ensure the safety of our residents in the event of an outbreak of flu or gastro.
Outbreaks of infectious diseases such as influenza (flu) and gastroenteritis (gastro) often occur in the general community. Particularly where people live together such as boarding schools and aged care facilities.
As few as two or three residents becoming ill in an aged care facility can be considered the start of an outbreak of flu or gastro. This is because these diseases are contagious and can spread quickly. Facilities must act immediately to control the spread of infectious disease and protect other residents, staff and visitors from becoming ill.
Gastro is a highly infectious disease that causes nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting. The elderly are at higher risk of becoming dehydrated, which can be dangerous as they often have other health problems or weakened systems.
Symptoms of gastro can include:
• Nausea or vomiting
• Loss of appetite
• Abdominal cramps and pain
• Weakness, aches & lethargy
• Headaches and fever
Flu is a highly infectious and a potentially dangerous disease. It is spread by droplets from coughing or sneezing. Flu is often called ‘seasonal’ as it tends to occur in the colder, Winter months. The elderly are particularly vulnerable to flu and it can lead to complications such as pneumonia.
Symptoms of seasonal flu can include:
• Muscle and joint pain
• Stuffy/runny nose
• Coughing or sneezing
• Sore throat
We have several ways of preventing and reducing the spread of infection at all times; the most important is always hand washing. However, should there be an outbreak, we will implement a number of extra precautions to prevent the spread of disease.
• Increased hygiene measures including extra cleaning and wearing gloves, gowns etc.
• Collecting specimens for laboratory testing and early identification
• Isolating affected residents with dedicated care staff
• Notifying relatives and friends ensuring ill staff do not come to work, and insuring ill staff do not come to work
You can help by:
• Ensuring that you have the flu vaccination each year
• Encouraging your family and friends to be vaccinated and to stay away if unwell or have been in contact with anyone who is unwell.
• Avoid spreading illness – washing hands regularly
• Alert staff immediately of any health changes
If we all work together, we can greatly minimise the risk of any of our residents or staff becoming unwell not only during the Winter months but all year-round.