Each fall, as temperatures drop nationwide, the number of influenza cases in the United States starts to rise, signaling the beginning of flu season. During this period, which traditionally begins in October and runs through May, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) carries out public information campaigns designed to encourage the public to take steps to reduce the risk posed by influenza. And throughout flu season, voluntary consensus standards are standing by, ready to be of assistance.
One of the most important things that individuals can do to reduce both the risk of contracting influenza and the risk of transmitting it to others is to get a flu shot. The CDC strongly encourages all U.S residents older than six months to receive the flu vaccine, with the exception of individuals who have a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, severe allergic reactions to an influenza vaccine, severe allergic reactions to eggs, or people who are currently moderately or severely ill. But once a flu shot has been administered, medical staff members need to take special care to ensure that the syringe and other related medical waste is properly disposed of. CSA Z317.10-2009 (R2014), Handling of waste materials in health care facilities and veterinary health care facilities, lends a hand with this important effort by providing requirements for the safe packaging, collection, storage, and on-site treatment and disposal of this sort of waste material in health clinics and other similar locations. This standard was developed by CSA Group, an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) organizational member and accredited standards developer.
Beyond the flu shot, there are some other steps you can take to protect yourself and others from influenza. One of the simplest but most effective is to make a point of thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water on a regular basis throughout the day. An International Standard from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), ISO 660:2009, Animal and vegetable fats and oils - Determination of acid value and acidity, sets down methods for determining acidity in animal and vegetable fats and oils, including those used in soap stock, an important component of soap. The standard was developed by ISO Technical Committee (TC) 34, Food products, Subcommittee (SC) 11, Animal and vegetable fats and oils. ANSI member the American Oil Chemists' Society (AOCS) serves as administrator of the ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to ISO TC 34 and SC 11.
If you do contract influenza, the CDC recommends staying at home for at least twenty-four hours after your fever breaks, except to seek medical attention, and suggests that you get as much sleep as possible and stay hydrated. While there are many beverages that support hydration, drinking water is a particularly good way to keep your hydration levels up, since it does not contain any caffeine, diuretics, or other ingredients. A standard developed by the American Water Works Association (AWWA), an ANSI organizational member and accredited standards developer, supports access to clean water by providing guidance on approaches to water treatment. AWWA B202-2013, Quicklime and Hydrated Lime, provides information on the use of hydrated lime and quicklime in pebble, lump, and ground form for use in water supply service.
While most people who get the flu will suffer primarily from aches, sneezing, coughing, and other unpleasant symptoms, some individuals will be more seriously affected, requiring outside medical care or even hospitalization. In some instances, doctors will make use of antivirals to help treat severe cases. ASTM E2756-10, Standard Terminology Relating to Antimicrobial and Antiviral Agents, includes information about terms used in connection with antivirals and antimicrobial agents, with the goal of supporting uniform use of terms in the testing of these important agents. This standard was developed by ANSI member and audited designator ASTM International.
From flu shot to sickbed, voluntary standards are providing important support throughout flu season and beyond. For more information about the flu and the methods for preventing it or mitigating its effects, visit the CDC's website.