From: Dr. Jimmy Guidry, State Health Officer, Louisiana Department of Health
01/03/2018 02:35:02 PM
RE: Flu Season

Attention all health care providers:
As you know, Louisiana is seeing a busy and early flu season, with the majority of the viruses being the more severe influenza A strains. I am writing to ask for your help in sharing key flu prevention messages with your patients and community to minimize the spread of the flu. If you have questions, please contact the Louisiana Department of Health Infectious Disease Epidemiology Section at 1-800-256-2748.

Here are ways that you can help:
• Encourage every patient who is sick with a fever of greater than 100.3 or any other cold symptoms to stay home. Advise them not to go to work, school, or engage in other public activities until the patient has been without symptoms for 24 hours.

• Simple surgical masks should be used by:
o Anyone entering a medical facility with upper respiratory symptoms,
o Any medical provider collecting swabs or any specimen from the respiratory tract, and
o Any medical provider with upper respiratory symptoms who still comes to work.

• Prescribe antiviral medications early when appropriate.

• Be cautious in interpreting rapid influenza diagnostic tests – a negative result does not necessarily mean the patient does not have influenza especially when influenza activity is high in the community.

• Providers should also encourage patients to get a flu shot, even if they think they’ve had the flu.

• Engage the marketing and communications team (if available) to support to share key messages about flu prevention with the public through websites, social media channels, news releases, etc. Key messages can target residents, businesses, and community partners.

• Ask visitors who are sick to avoid in-person visits to loved ones who are receiving care in a hospital, nursing home, cancer center, and other care facilities. Encourage other forms of communication such as a phone call, face time, or video chat.

Key Messages:
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Especially if you have cold symptoms or have fever greater than 100.3. Stay away from others until you have not had symptoms for 24 hours.
• Call your doctor immediately to see if an antiviral medication is appropriate for you.
• If you are sick, do not visit vulnerable loved ones who may be receiving care in a hospital, nursing home, cancer center, or other setting.
• If you are sick, do not kiss babies, pregnant women, grandparents, and others who may be at a higher risk of getting sick.
• Cover your cough and sneeze.
• Try not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Wash your hands frequently.
• Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
• It’s not too late to get a flu shot.

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