Cleaning and disinfecting are part of a broad approach to preventing infectious diseases in schools. To help slow the spread of influenza (flu), the first line of defense is getting vaccinated. Other measures include covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands, and keeping sick people away from others. Below are tips on how to slow the spread of flu specifically through cleaning and disinfecting.
1. Know the difference between cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing
Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects. Cleaning works by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects. Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements. This process works by either cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects to lower the risk of spreading infection.
2. Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are touched often
Follow your schoolâ€™s standard procedures for routine cleaning and disinfecting. Typically, this means daily sanitizing surfaces and objects that are touched often, such as desks, countertops, doorknobs, computer keyboards, hands-on learning items, faucet handles, phones, and toys. Some schools may also require daily disinfecting these items. Standard procedures often call for disinfecting specific areas of the school, like bathrooms.
Immediately clean surfaces and objects that are visibly soiled. If surfaces or objects are soiled with body fluids or blood, use gloves and other standard precautions to avoid coming into contact with the fluid. Remove the spill, and then clean and disinfect the surface.
Currently, the best way to prevent infection with avian influenza A viruses is to avoid sources of exposure whenever possible. Most human infections with avian influenza A viruses have occurred following direct close or prolonged contact with sick or dead infected poultry.
People who work with poultry or who respond to avian influenza outbreaks are advised to follow recommended biosecurity and infection control practices; these include use of appropriate personal protective equipment and careful attention to hand hygiene. In addition, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) poultry outbreak responders should adhere to guidance from CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) and receive seasonal influenza vaccination annually and take prophylactic antiviral medication during response. They should also be monitored for illness during and after responding to HPAI outbreaks among poultry. Responders to low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) outbreaks should also consider this guidance as part of their response plan. Seasonal influenza vaccination will not prevent infection with avian influenza A viruses, but can reduce the risk of co-infection with human and avian influenza A viruses.
Antiviral Drugs Can Be Used to Treat Illness
For treatment (and prevention) of human infection with avian influenza A viruses, CDC and WHO currently recommend oseltamivir or zanamivir, two of four prescription antiviral medications currently licensed for use in the United States.
In particular, analyses of available HPAI H5N1 viruses circulating worldwide suggest that most viruses are susceptible to oseltamivir and zanamivir. However, some evidence of resistance to oseltamivir has been reported in HPAI H5N1 viruses isolated from some human HPAI H5N1 cases. Monitoring for antiviral resistance among avian influenza A viruses is crucial and ongoing, and data directly inform antiviral treatment recommendations.
The U.S. Government is Stockpiling H5N1 Vaccine for People in Case Its Needed
The United States federal government maintains a stockpile of H5N1 vaccine. The stockpiled vaccine could be used if a H5N1 virus begins transmitting easily from person to person.