Medical Squadron, CAC proactive in flu fight

YOUNGSTOWN AIR RESERVE STATION, Ohio --

The flu has been particularly bad this year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the percentage of people seeing their health care provider for influenza-like illness is the highest since the 2009 pandemic. According to the CDC’s website 42 states including Ohio experienced high influenza-like illness activity in the most recent week from which data is available (the week ending Jan. 27). Although there’s no way to eliminate the chance of getting the flu, a cautious and proactive approach can reduce the odds significantly.

Lt. Col. Susan Gutlove is a Clinical Nurse with the 910th Medical Squadron. She offers some practical advice that can help prevent the spread of influenza.

“The first and foremost thing is making sure that you’re up-to-date on your immunizations,” said Gutlove. “Be in the best health you can be in, making sure to drink plenty of fluids, eat well, exercise regularly and get lots of sleep.”

Gutlove says influenza spreads both directly and indirectly, so washing hands regularly is of the utmost importance. To properly disinfect your hands, use warm water and soap. If those are unavailable, use hand sanitizer.

The Community Activity Center (CAC) is the central gathering point for Youngstown Air Reserve Station employees during the week and especially during Unit Training Assemblies (UTAs) when hundreds of Reserve Citizen Airmen eat at the facility. Due to the high influenza rates this season, the CAC has stepped up preventative measures to help keep guests and customers protected. These measures include installing several self-service hand sanitizer stations around the facility and hiring a company to provide a state-of-the-art disinfecting service. Before and after the February UTA, the company will use an electrostatic system that positively charges particles of a disinfectant solution so that they attract toward and stick to negatively charged particles on surfaces. The company advertises that the solution kills bacteria and viruses in five to ten seconds and evaporates in four to six minutes.

Dale Novello is the Community Activity Center manager.

“We’re just trying to do our part to help in any way we can,” said Novello. “We can support our Airmen by using an eco-friendly method to help keep people healthy while they’re here.”

Since the best preventative practices aren’t guaranteed to keep you healthy, it’s important to know what to do if you get sick.

“Get plenty of rest, and drink plenty of fluids,” said Gutlove. “Whenever possible, avoid contact with others until 24 hours after your fever is gone without the help of fever-reducing medication.”

Gutlove also advises that people with the flu should keep their hands away from their nose and mouth as much as possible, being sure to wash their hands after touching these areas. Use a tissue if you have to sneeze or wipe your nose, and dispose of it promptly afterward.

It’s also important to know when to seek medical attention for flu-like symptoms. Visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/flu for information on influenza and guidance on what to do if you get sick.