It’s time for the latest of our series of blogs looking in more detail at our infection control service. Every day, we help to prevent the spread of a range of pathogens, whether it’s bacteria, viruses or spores, which might be a threat to health. We’ve been looking at a number of different infections in previous blogs. Next up is a perennial of the winter season: swine flu. We’re going to take a closer look at what the virus does, before outlining how we can help organisations stop it spreading.
Viruses that spread and adapt all too easily
We’re focusing here on swine flu, as it’s among the most prevalent strains in the UK, but this blog applies equally to bird flu and other varieties. Every year, a number of different strains of flu are prevalent. Indeed, the variety of different strains is bewildering. And they’re usually characterised by the species in which the virus first appeared.
It’s common parlance to refer to a heavy cold as ‘flu’, because many of the symptoms are similar. But influenza, or flu for short, is a much more serious condition. Take for instance swine flu, a strain known as H1N1. The virus was first identified in Mexico in April 2009. It became known as swine flu because it's similar to flu viruses that affect pigs. It spread rapidly from country to country because it was a new type of flu virus that few young people were immune to. In the event in the UK, a small number of cases led to serious illness or death, mostly in children and young adults with underlying health problems and in pregnant women.
Of course, it’s possible to be vaccinated against flu; many people receive a free flu jab on the NHS. Swine flu is one of the main strains of the virus against which the 2019-20 vaccine protects. However, this process tends to be backward-looking. The influenza virus is adaptive, highly infectious and can mutate rapidly to overwhelm immune systems and become pandemic. Therefore, it’s important to take other steps to prevent the spread of a potentially serious infectious disease.
Keeping infections under control
Online advice from the NHS about swine flu focuses on self-treatment. It’s worth remembering that antibiotics are not effective in treating flu as it’s caused by a virus not bacteria. It’s also worth noting that anyone who is eligible for a free flu jab, generally people with an underlying health condition, should be encouraged to take it up. Generally, it’s most effective to get the vaccine before the start of the main December-March flu season. But as the disease is most serious in people with underlying health conditions, it’s particularly important to minimise its spread in health and other care settings.
General health and safety advice about cleaning and infection control is available on the UK’s Health & Safety Executive (HSE) website. There are some clear steps that can limit the risks associated with swine flu spreading:
Promote a general culture of safety, including taking up vaccinations if offered and not reporting to work if sick.
Perform routine workplace housekeeping.
Encourage workers to practise good hand hygiene, by washing with hot water and soap.
Guarantee availability of washrooms and handwashing supplies.
Ensure that surfaces, where the flu virus may linger, are cleaned and disinfected.
Infection control moves beyond superficial cleaning
It’s on this last area that we focus here at React Specialist Cleaning. The React Infection Control Service goes beyond superficial cleaning to eradicate the swine flu virus wherever it may linger. We follow strict infection control protocols to ensure complete disinfection. We ensure that all surfaces where the flu virus can survive are cleaned and disinfected. We use appropriately diluted products which are effective but safe, as we don’t want to leave behind any harmful residues.
We always encourage our clients to make sure they have a good approach to hygiene. This includes making sure that employees don’t come to work if they’re sick, or that patients and service users report if they become ill. And we follow our own advice too; we always ensure that all our workers are fit and well when they attend each and every cleaning assignment. Quite simply, we aim to eliminate the swine flu virus wherever we work – and we protect our workers and our clients as we do so.
To find out more about how our Infection Control Service can limit the spread of swine flu and other flu strains, contact one of the team today.
Post by Shaun D. Doak
Shaun is the Managing Director of React Specialist Cleaning. He is deeply committed to making sure that every one of our company’s clients receives the highest possible level of service. An expert in HVAC and commercial and industrial cleaning methodologies, Shaun has extensive experience in the facilities management and renewable services sectors.