Double trouble: are you prepared for flu season?

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  Posted by: Dental Design      22nd December 2021

As the days get shorter and the cold draws in, this typically coincides with the start of the flu season. As you are no doubt already aware, Influenza can be deadly, and figures suggest that thousands of people die from the virus in the UK each year.[i] What’s particularly concerning, however, is that there is a chance that these figures could be much higher this year.

News reports and estimates have been issued by a number of leading health authorities, projecting that flu season this year is likely to be more severe, and potentially more deadly than usual.

But why is flu likely to be more of a concern this year, and what can professionals do to help ensure that dental practices remain a safe space?

Why is flu more dangerous this year?

Interestingly, despite being a commonly known disease, there is a significant lack of knowledge among the general public about Influenza. In fact, one source suggests that 25% of the UK population do not know that flu can be fatal; meaning individuals may not be taking proper cautions to defend against the spread of the disease, especially if they believe themselves to be fit and healthy.[ii] This is significant as it shows that flu has the potential to run rampant in the UK population, which could have far-reaching consequences.

In terms of flu being more severe this year, one of the leading arguments to support this theory is that the population has much lower levels of immunity. In pre-pandemic times, the flu would have been circulating throughout the year, with many people having a level of resistance from catching the flu the previous season. However, due to effective social distancing, regular hand sanitising and the use of PPE such as facemasks by the general public, flu cases were at an all-time low in 2020, meaning that people haven’t had the chance to build up their defences against the virus.[iii]

Arguably, what’s even more concerning than the predicted lower levels of immunity is the chance that there may be what some experts have called a “twindemic” in the coming months. As numbers of Coronavirus cases continue to rise and the disease continues to co-circulate alongside Influenza, experts have stated that people will be twice as likely to die if they catch both diseases at the same time.[iv]

As such, dental professionals should be heightening defences and reviewing infection control measures to help ensure that dental practices remain a safe space, even throughout flu season.

How does Influenza spread?

Like many illnesses, Influenza is mainly spread through respiratory droplets. When someone coughs, sneezes or even talks, miniscule droplets containing the virus are expelled, and these can be breathed in by others or settle on surfaces. If someone touches a contaminated surface and then puts their fingers in their mouth, nose or near their eyes, the virus can enter their body this way.[v]

To help prevent transmission within dental practices, proper disinfection of surfaces is paramount, especially those that routinely come into contact with patients such as door handles, washroom doors as well as items of furniture in waiting rooms. But how can you ensure that the cleaning products you’re using are effective at eliminating all threats?

Take a closer look at your cleaning products

One of the first things you should consider when choosing cleaning products is how successful they are against common threats. There may not seem a huge difference between a product that claims to destroy 99.9% of pathogens and one that kills 99.9999%, but this can have a substantial impact on your quality of infection control, especially when you consider that even one viral particle has the potential to infect an individual.

Another thing to bear in mind is the efficacy of products on certain surfaces. In your waiting room alone, you are likely to have furniture and fittings made from various materials, including wood, glass, metal and plastic. As such, you need to guarantee that your cleaning products remain safe to use on all of these surfaces, and that they perform equally well across the board.

It’s also a smart idea to invest in solutions that offer lasting protection. For example, the Steri-7 Xtra range of disinfectants from Initial Medical is enriched with Reactive Barrier Technology – a protective property that prevents recolonisation of pathogens on treated surfaces for up to 72 hours so long as the products aren’t wiped away*. Able to destroy 99.99% of pathogens including Influenza and Coronavirus**, these products provide high quality protection throughout your practice.

Preparation is key

At the time of writing, we cannot know if the fears surrounding flu season will come to fruition. However, tightening your infection control procedures and preparing for a potential “twindemic” is worthwhile, and would provide you, your employees and your patients with the peace of mind that your practice remains a safe space for all.

Rebecca Waters, Category Manager, Initial Medical

Rebecca has worked in the Healthcare sector for the past 17years and was a Research Chemist with Bayer Cropscience prior to joining Rentokil Initial in 2003.  She keeps up to date on all developments within the clinical waste management industry and is an active member of the CIWM, SMDSA and BDIA.

 

For further information please visit www.initial.co.uk/medical or Tel: 0870 850 4045

 

*Source: Steri-7

**Tested against feline Coronavirus, a surrogate virus for Coronavirus.

 

About Initial Medical Waste 

Initial Medical set the standard in healthcare and infectious waste management in the UK, providing a reliable, effective and fully compliant service built around customer needs and delivered by our highly trained local teams.  We are ISO 9001:2015 accredited, with technology fully integrated into our operations, providing full traceability of service delivery, electronic waste documentation and the best customer experience possible. We also offer innovative healthcare waste management services and infection control products, to help break the chain of transmission and prevent cross contamination.  

Initial Medical are a company with a ‘World Class’ Health and Safety record, and ISO 45001:2018 accreditation. We are also accredited to ISO 14001:2015 environmental standards, and pride ourselves on our sustainable approach with a focus on delivering eco-friendly products and operational solutions.

 

For further information please visit www.initial.co.uk/medical or Tel: 0870 850 4045

 

Media enquiries:

For more information, please contact:

erica@ekcommunications.net

01227 265700

 

[i] Office for National Statistics. Influenza Deaths in 2018, 2019 and 2020. Link: https://www.ons.gov.uk/aboutus/transparencyandgovernance/freedomofinformationfoi/influenzadeathsin20182019and2020[Last accessed October 21].

[ii] Sky News. COVID-19: People who catch coronavirus and flu at same time this winter ‘twice as likely to die’, Jenny Harries warns, amid fears of ‘twindemic’ Link: https://news.sky.com/story/covid-19-people-who-catch-coronavirus-and-flu-at-same-time-this-winter-twice-as-likely-to-die-jenny-harries-warns-12430502 [Last accessed October 21].

 

[iii] The independent. Not a single case of flu detected by Public Health England this year as Covid restrictions suppress virus. Link: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/flu-cases-covid-england-phe-latest-b1805124.html [Last accessed October 21].

[iv] Sky News. COVID-19: People who catch coronavirus and flu at same time this winter ‘twice as likely to die’, Jenny Harries warns, amid fears of ‘twindemic’ Link: https://news.sky.com/story/covid-19-people-who-catch-coronavirus-and-flu-at-same-time-this-winter-twice-as-likely-to-die-jenny-harries-warns-12430502 [Last accessed October 21].

[v] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How Flu Spreads. Link: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/spread.htm [Last accessed October 21].


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