Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Influenza Outbreaks in Residential Care Facilities for Public Health Units in Australia
2.2 Infection Control Precautions
The risk of outbreaks of influenza (and other respiratory illnesses) can be minimised by ensuring compliance with standard infection control practices amongst staff and residents of RCFs at all times.
The most important of these measures are:
- practicing good hand hygiene, especially after contact with respiratory secretions or potentially contaminated surfaces;
- encouraging respiratory hygiene / cough etiquette;
- isolation or cohorting of ill residents and the adoption of respiratory (droplet) precautions; and
- routine environmental cleaning with detergents and water, or chlorine solutions.
Residents and staff should be encouraged to practice good respiratory hygiene, which involves covering the nose/mouth when coughing or sneezing, and using tissues to contain respiratory secretions. Tissues should be disposed of immediately in the general waste, and the hands thoroughly washed with soap and water. If an ill resident is coughing persistently, the use of a surgical mask may assist in preventing the dispersal of infected droplets.
Healthcare personnel should be advised to observe droplet precautions (i.e., wearing a surgical mask for close contact), in addition to standard precautions when examining or assisting a patient with a respiratory infection, particularly if a fever is present.
The influenza virus can survive for several hours on surfaces; therefore attention to cleaning, particularly of frequently touched surfaces, may assist in preventing transmission. Cleaning should be performed using neutral detergent and water followed by a disinfectant (see Appendix 1).