As every winter, the annual flu season — and the subsequent flu season panic — is upon us.
While the flu can be uncomfortable at best and downright deadly at worst, there is good news: 2018/2019’s outbreak is turning out to be much milder than last year’s devastating season.
The other good news is that medical techniques, and medical technology, have never been more prepared for it. From heightened awareness and public education to better medication and bacteria-resistant medical computers, the flu has a formidable foe this year.
1. Don’t Panic: the Numbers Are Down
Make no mistake — the flu can be extremely dangerous, and will cause fatalities throughout the country. The elderly and the very young are in the most danger, which is why it’s advised that those groups especially get a flu vaccination.
For the 2017/2018 flu season, deaths from flu topped 80,000, a tragic record. Last season had the highest number of fatalities and hospitalizations in the last ten years. This year is already looking milder, with deaths from flu and pneumonia far below the usual range this season, according to the CDC.
This doesn’t mean there should be no concern — as we approach the peak of the season, infections will increase, as will hospitalizations. And, the flu season can sometimes last all the way into March, giving plenty of time for conditions to change.
But, clinicians like Dr. Stephen Schneckel, VP of Population Health Quality in Iowa report that they’re “not seeing as many cases as we did last year.”
2. Visit Up-To-Date Clinics with the Newest Technology
Sneezing into your elbow and using lots of hand sanitizer is still a great idea, but luckily medical computers and other technology found in hospitals and doctor’s offices are also helping to battle influenza.
Modern offices have medical computers made with antimicrobial plastic that kill bacteria on contact. Since computers are such a hotspot of use (and thus, passing bacteria from hand to hand), these advances are extremely helpful in reducing infections of all kinds for staff and patient alike.
Fanless medical computers are also being used in offices and hospitals to combat the spread of germs. Computers typically require a fan to keep internal components cool. While this keeps the computer operational, the fan spread germs and bacteria through the air. Fanless cooling technology eliminates this type of air circulation, mitigating the risk of airborne infection.
These medical computers are also be sealed for liquid and particle intrusion (IP65 rating), meaning they can be frequently sprayed down and scrubbed with disinfectant to stop any viruses or bacteria from lingering on the surface.
The modern, fully-updated doctor’s office or hospital with this kind of technology is going to be a far safer place to visit because of these germ-fighting innovations.
3. Don’t Wait: Flu Shots Are Everywhere
Vaccines have proven incredibly potent against influenza. This year, doctors and specialists are reporting that the shot may be particularly effective. Richard Webby at the CDC says that the current shot can reduce the risk of having to seek medical care for flu “by 40%.”
The vaccine that’s been prepared this year matches (and thus targets) the most common strain of H1N1 that’s been going around this season, a fortunate break that puts the shot at maximum efficacy. Vaccines are, in a way, a kind of guess. It’s impossible to inject a vaccine for every possible strain of the flu into every single person, so doctors and experts make an educated guess — backed by observation and statistics — as to which strains will prove the most harmful or the most virulent. These vaccines are then given to the public.
A vaccine isn’t a bullet-proof vest, but it can help reduce the worst of the inherent risk.
Luckily, flu shots are more readily available now then they’ve ever been. Beyond doctor’s offices and hospitals, there are drug stores, colleges, employers, and even grocery stores that host doctors and other clinicians to administer the shot.
Innovations in the shot itself have also been spreading. Many clinics are offering the LAIV (live-attenuated influenza vaccine), a nasal spray that takes the place of the flu shot for those unable to get the regular injection.
Mobile medical clinics are also making the rounds in metropolitan areas. These mobile clinics are usually fully equipped — you can enter your information in a medical tablet or mounted panel PC, get the shot, and then be on your merry way with one more concern off your plate.
4. Stay as Isolated As You Can
You don’t have to pack up your things and move to a Tibetan mountaintop or anything, but there are wise precautions to take to limit your exposure to the virus.
At work or school, during flu season, avoid using anyone else’s phone, computer, stapler, etc. Any frequently-handled item is going to be a danger zone, so stick to your own gear.
Borrowing or browsing someone else’s cell phone in particular should be avoided at all costs, and you should clean your own phone as often as you can: a study by the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences at the University of Arizona found that the average cell phone has “10 times more bacteria than most toilet seats.”
And, lastly, if you are sick don’t go to work. Don’t go to school. Don’t visit with your grandparents. Take care of yourself as best as you can, open up the windows to get some fresh air (weather permitting), and allow yourself to convalesce. If you’re worried about losing productivity, remember that making the whole office or classroom sick is about as productivity-crushing as burning the building down.
It’s Not Too Late to Get a Vaccine
Yes, the flu seasons is already upon us, and yes the vaccine can take a week or two to kick in. However, “flu season” is the name of a yearly trend, it’s not a locked closet that the flu can’t escape.
There’s plenty of flu season left, and there are plenty of folks who come down with the flu outside of the season. And even if you do end up getting infected after receiving the shot, the length and severity of the illness may be greatly decreased because of the vaccine.
With fully-stocked mobile clinics and easy-to-clean medical computers, it’s never been easier or more effective to get a flu shot and ride out the rest of the year in peace.
Contact Cybernet to learn more about deploying medical computers and tablets with antimicrobial housings and fanless cooling systems to fight infection.