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FOR RELEASE: October 18, 2004
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

State Health Officials Issue Flu Prevention Guidelines for
Employees at the Workplace and Health Care Providers

The Oklahoma State Department of Health is issuing guidelines to help prevent the transmission of influenza for employees at the workplace as well as health care providers.

“Even though our supply of influenza vaccine is limited this year, there are still numerous precautions persons can take at their workplace, and health care providers can follow, to prevent the transmission of influenza,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Crutcher.

Crutcher said employees could help stop the spread of viruses that cause colds and influenza at their workplace by following these simple precautions:

  • Wash hands well and often with soap and water. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with persons who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.

To help prevent the transmission of respiratory viruses in health care facilities, Crutcher advised the following eight steps health care workers should take to protect themselves, their patients and their co-workers.

  1. Post signage instructing patients and persons who accompany them to immediately inform health-care personnel if they have symptoms of respiratory infections.
  2. Provide tissues, trashcans, alcohol-based hand rubs, hand washing supplies where sinks are located, and surgical masks for persons who are coughing.
  3. Separate coughing persons from non-coughing persons in common areas.
  4. Educate patients and persons in health-care facilities to “cover their cough,” dispose of used tissues, wear a mask if coughing, and to wash hands after coughing or handling tissues.
  5. Wear gloves when touching respiratory secretions. Wear surgical masks when within three feet of a coughing person.
  6. Wash hands with soap and water after evaluating or treating sick persons.
  7. Decontaminate the environment by wiping down frequently touched areas with routine environmental disinfectants, especially in areas where coughing persons have been.
  8. Ask health care personnel with symptoms of respiratory infection to stay home from work for the duration of their illness.

For more information about preventing influenza, visit the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s influenza Web site at www.health.state.ok.us/program/cdd/flu/index.html.

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