Flu Season Heroes – Wear Your Visitor Badge

Who are you protecting this flu season?

Menno Place protects our communities by minimizing the spread of the flu virus. Flu season peaks in the late fall and winter with about 5 – 10% of Canadian adults affected each year. We know the symptoms – fever, cough, muscle aches, loss of appetite and fatigue. Some will experience nausea and vomiting.

At Menno Place, we follow the directions of the Fraser Health Authority which requires all staff and visitors to do their part in order to protect our residents from the spread of the flu. This means that all staff and visitors must have either a flu vaccination or wear a mask when in the presence of residents.

Most healthy adults recover from the flu within a week to 10 days. Those who have chronic health issues, however, are more susceptible to becoming ill and even death due to the flu.

When you sign-in to visit a resident at Menno Home, Hospital and Terrace East, you will find a badge to wear. There are stick-on badges for one-time visits and clip-on badges for frequent visitors which you can keep. Please place a badge on yourself at sign-in. This will let the staff know that you are a “Flu Season Hero”.

What is a Flu Season Hero?

This is someone who understands their responsibility in preventing the spread of infection during the flu season.

  • They have received an annual flu shot OR they wear a mask when around residents.
  • They wear a badge while visiting residents at Menno Home, Menno Hospital and Terrace East Assisted Living.
  • They are part of the solution, not the problem.
  • They don’t visit residents when they have symptoms of cold or influenza.
  • They wash their hands diligently – this is the #1 way to prevent the spread of infection.

What happens in an outbreak?

An outbreak is announced when several residents in a unit have contracted a cold or influenza.

When an outbreak is called, the staff on that unit follow strict protocols to prevent the spread of infection. These protocols include increased housekeeping, limited movement between units and all of the staff remain within the space during their entire work shift.

When an outbreak is called, Menno Place communicates to Friends, Family and Residents in a variety of ways:

In real time (in the moment) – we send out a Twitter tweet via Twitter.com/MennoPlaceAlert. If you have a Twitter account, please follow our alerts.

If you don’t have a Twitter account, you can see the real-time updates on our website: www.MennoPlace.ca/alerts

The morning after the outbreak is announced, Menno Place sends an email to all who are subscribed to the Family, Friends and Visitor email newsletter.

Resources on Flu

Norovirus – Facts and Prevention

Download HealthLinkBC – Norovirus PDF

What is Norovirus?

Norovirus is a group of viruses that cause acute gastroenteritis, an infection of the digestive tract (stomach and intestine). Norovirus outbreaks occur in B.C. communities every year. Outbreaks occur year round but are more common in the winter months. Outbreaks of illness are common in nursing homes, daycare centres, schools, children’s camps and on cruise ships.

What are the symptoms?

Within 1 to 2 days of being exposed to a norovirus you may have the following symptoms: an upset stomach, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. Other symptoms include nausea, cramping, chills and fever. The illness usually begins suddenly and lasts for 1 to 3 days. Complications may occur if you lose too much fluid from vomiting and diarrhea and do not drink enough fluids. This is called dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration include: decrease in urination, a dry mouth and throat, and dizziness. This is more likely to occur with babies, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. Severe illness is very rare and hospital care is usually not required.

How does the virus spread?

Norovirus can be found in the vomit and diarrhea of people who are sick. When someone vomits, people nearby may become infected by swallowing tiny droplets from the air. The virus can also be spread on surfaces like countertops or sink taps. The virus can survive for a long time on these surfaces if they are not properly cleaned. You can become ill when you touch these surfaces and then place your hands or fingers in your mouth. The virus can be spread if an infected person does not wash their hands or if someone with this illness handles food, water or ice. Some foods can be contaminated with the virus at their source. For example, shellfish may be contaminated by sewage water before they are harvested.

Is there a treatment?

Medications are not usually used to treat norovirus. People infected with norovirus usually get better within a few days. Antibiotics should not be taken for norovirus. Antibiotics only work to fight bacteria and not viruses. It is important that you drink enough clear fluids, such as water, so you do not get dehydrated. You could also drink other fluids such as juices, clear soups, or oral rehydration fluids for vomiting or diarrhea. See a health care provider if diarrhea or vomiting lasts more than 2 or 3 days, or if dehydration is a concern.

How can you prevent infection with the virus?

There is no vaccine or medication that can prevent norovirus infection. However, these tips can help prevent the virus from spreading:

Wash your hands, especially after using the toilet, changing diapers or before eating or preparing food. Proper hand washing requires running water, soap and cleansing of the hands for about 20 seconds. For more information see HealthLinkBC File #85 Hand Washing for Parents and Children.

Disinfect bathrooms used by sick people with a dilute bleach solution (1 part household bleach to 9 parts water).

Throw out any food that has been handled by a person with the virus or exposed while a person vomited.

Wash dishes and utensils with hot water and detergent or in a dishwasher.

Wash laundry soiled with vomit or diarrhea in a washing machine using detergent.

People who are ill and work as food handlers or care providers should stay away from work while they are sick and for 2 days after they are better. Even when diarrhea and vomiting have stopped, the virus can still be in the stool (bowel movement) for as long as 2 weeks. Be sure to wash your hands carefully and often.

If someone is ill with norovirus, discourage visitors to the home. It is best to wait for at least 2 days after everyone is better and the house is cleaned and disinfected.

When a family member is sick with vomiting or diarrhea, it is a good idea for that person to stay in a separate room and not be around others, as the virus spreads easily. Everyone in the family should wash their hands often with soap and water. Use different towels or paper towels for drying hands to help stop the spread to other people.

Do not eat raw or undercooked shellfish. Cooking will destroy the virus.

How can I reduce the risk of getting infected from cleaning up vomit or diarrhea?

If you are cleaning up vomit or diarrhea, you can reduce the risk of getting infected by doing the following:

Wear disposable gloves. Reusable rubber gloves may be used, but they should be washed after use.

Use paper towels to soak up excess liquid and put the paper towels and any solid matter directly into a plastic garbage bag.

Clean the soiled area with soap and hot water. The same cleaning cloth or sponge should not be used to clean other areas of the house as this may spread the virus.

Disinfect the area that has been washed with a freshly made bleach solution. Make a solution of bleach by mixing 1 part bleach to 9 parts of water. Household cleaners other than bleach do not work as well for noroviruses.

Put all cleaning cloths and disposable gloves into a plastic garbage bag and throw out.

Wash your hands well using soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

 

For more HealthLinkBC File topics, visit www.HealthLinkBC.ca/healthfiles or your local public health unit.

Click on the www.HealthLinkBC.ca or call 8-1-1 for non-emergency health information and services in B.C.

For deaf and hearing-impaired assistance, call 7-1-1 in B.C.

Translation services are available in more than 130 languages on request.

Flu Vaccination or Mask During Flu Season

Flu Vaccination or Mask During Flu Season

All visitors and staff who are in resident areas (in Home, Hospital or Terrace) must wear a mask or have the flu vaacination.

What if I have not received the flu vaccine? Can I visit a resident at Menno Place?

If you are visiting Menno Home, Menno Hospital or Terrace East, you must either receive a flu vaacination or wear a mask in resident areas during flu season. Masks are provided at every entrance to these areas.

When is the “flu season”? 

Flu season usually runs from December to the end of March.

Additional Resources

Influenza – or the flu – can be a serious contagious disease, which is spread by droplet transmission through close contact with an infected person. Infected individuals are highly contagious and can transmit the virus for 24 hours before they show any symptoms.

Each year, there are approximately 3,500 deaths from influenza and its complications across Canada. Influenza causes by far the most deaths among vaccine-preventable diseases, outpacing all others combined.

Hospitalized patients and seniors in residential care are more vulnerable to influenza than healthy adults. The vaccine is also less effective in the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, making it even more important that their caregivers and visitors are vaccinated.