Our thoughts may be on spring, but reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that winter’s companion—seasonal influenza—is making a late appearance in the U.S.
Flu cases are now widespread in two states (Calif., Colo.), and an increasing number of states are reporting regional flu activity. The CDC expects this activity to rise in the coming weeks.
The flu virus can spread from a cough, sneeze or even talking. To avoid getting or passing the flu to others, follow these prevention tips:
- Get a flu shot every year. It’s not too late! Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to minimize illness and death.
- Practice good health habits to maintain your body’s resistance to infection by eating a balanced diet, drinking lots of fluids and getting a good night’s rest.
- Stop the spread of germs by washing your hands with soap and water, covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze with a tissue and minimizing contact with sick people.
- Stay home when you are sick. Adopt business/school practices that also encourage employees/students to stay home when sick.
- The flu is contagious, with the ability to infect others a day before symptoms appear and up to a week after becoming sick. Children may be contagious for an even longer period.
- Staying home will help protect those around you from the flu virus—at work, at school or at the grocery store.
Caring for Those with the Flu
If someone in your household has the flu, follow these tips:
- Designate one person as the caregiver.
- Avoid sharing items such as pens, towels, sheets, blankets, food or eating utensils unless cleaned between uses.
- Disinfect doorknobs, switches, handles, computers, telephones, toys and other surfaces that are commonly touched around the home or workplace.
- Wash everyone’s dishes using very hot water and soap.
- Wash your hands after handling dirty laundry.
- Wear disposable gloves when in contact with or cleaning up body fluids.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies more than 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.