CDC says flu season has arrived earlier and more intense than in past decade  

MUNDELEIN,Ill., Dec 10, 2012 — Tis the season for shopping, caroling, holiday parties, and travel. All of these activities — which bring large groups of people together in cramped places — are great places to share not only holiday cheer but the gift no one wants — viruses and flu.

This year’s winter flu season is now in full swing and is hitting earlier and stronger than anytime in the past decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The flu should not to be taken lightly as one out of every five people in theUnited Statestoday is affected by the flu and an average of 200,000 people are hospitalized each year with flu complications, according to the CDC.

Whether preparing a holiday meal, in the checkout line at the department store, or sitting on the airplane on the way to grandma’s house, the flu virus is easily passed from one person to the next. You can catch it anytime a nearby sick person sneezes or coughs in your direction sending a spray of virus-laden droplets your way. It is important to note that flu germs can linger on surfaces for up to eight hours. When you touch a contaminated surface and then put your hands on your eyes, nose, or mouth, your fingers transport the germs straight into your body.

Since no one wants to spend the holidays or winter break sick and in bed, here are three simple preventative steps to ward off the flu:

1.         The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older. While there are many flu viruses, a flu vaccine protects against the viruses that research shows will be most common this year, including H1N1 and H3N2. Log on to Healthmap Vaccine Finder at http://flushot.healthmap.org to locate flu vaccine locations near you.

2.         -Washhands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rubs.

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as germs spread this way.

- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

3.         Wear a facemask to reduce the risk of getting sick, or from infecting the people around you if you are sick.

Traditional facemasks act only as an air filter and do nothing to neutralize the harmful germs that remain active on the mask itself. But there is a new facemask that actually inactivates flu viruses within five minutes. Medline’s BioMask™ is a major breakthrough in protection that can help protect you and your loved ones from the flu this season.

BioMask is the first-ever FDA-cleared antiviral medical facemask that is shown to inactivate flu viruses, including the H3N2, this year’s dominant strain, as well as other laboratory tested flu viruses such as imminent pandemic and seasonal strains of influenza (flu) viruses, such as H1N1, Avian flu and Swine flu.

“BioMask should be one of the most important items in any home’s medicine cabinet or traveling first aid kit right alongside hand antiseptics, adhesive bandages, alcohol pads, tape and exam gloves,” said Lorri A. Downs BSN, MS, RN, CIC, vice president of clinical services, infection prevention and patient safety for Medline. “BioMask can help protect patients who are at home and especially at-risk groups such as children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with compromised immunities, as well as health care workers.”

The benefit of the BioMask is that it can provide protection from cross contamination. The outer facing of the mask is frequently touched by the user, who then touches other things or people passing on the flu germs. Since BioMask inactivates 99.99 percent of the tested flu viruses on five minutes contact, the risk of spreading the virus is greatly reduced.

“Employing these everyday protective measures, including wearing BioMask while  shopping, traveling or with groups of friends and family, can help ensure you and your loved ones stay healthy, so you can enjoy the holidays together,” said Downs. 

BioMask, which recently won the Chicago Innovation Award for its potential to protect against the flu, is sold under Medline’s Curad® brand name and available at major retail chains, including Walgreens, Walmart, Meijer, Albertsons and Winn-Dixie. Medline’s BioMask is also available to medical and health care facilities, including hospitals, nursing homes, surgery centers, physician offices and laboratories.  

The holidays should be a time to spend with family and friends, not in bed knocked out by the flu. With a few protective steps, you can help ensure your holidays are happy and healthy.  

About Medline

As the nation's largest privately held manufacturer and distributor of health care and surgical products, Medline manufactures and distributes more than 125,000 products to hospitals, extended care facilities, surgery centers, physician offices, home care dealers and retailers. Recently named one of the nation’s "Best and Brightest Companies to Work for,” Medline is headquartered inMundelein,Ill. and has more than 1,100 dedicated sales representatives nationwide to support its broad product line and cost management services.

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Media Contact:

John Marks, (847) 643-3309                                  Ann Fahey, (847) 643-3011          

jmarks@medline.com                                              afahey@medline.com