Fighting the Flu

By Michael Holland, MD, FAACT, FACOEM, FACMT, FACEP – CTEH Senior Medical Toxicologist

CDC officials reported the flu to be “widespread in 46 states last week (January 5-11, 2014),” with CDC Director Dr. Frieden stating that it appears that “we’re right in the middle of flu season.” As flu season continues to ramp up, we all must take action to keep our loved ones, workplaces, and local communities safe and healthy. This is especially true for the most vulnerable – our older populations, young children, and those with chronic diseases.

 Here are some simple steps from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help prepare for and prevent the flu:

•Get vaccinated. This year’s vaccine is the best protection you can take to avoid getting the flu. Unfortunately, this year’s vaccination is not well-matched to the prominent flu virus- H3N2, and 2/3 of vaccine recipients may be still at risk for the flu.

•Avoid close contact with people who are sick. One of the easiest ways to prevent the flu is staying away from those who are sick. Conversely, if you are sick with the flu, do not come to work and spread it to others.

•Wash your hands. Always wash your hands with soap and water. If soap isn’t available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

•Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs often spread by touching surfaces contaminated by the flu virus and then inoculating yourself with the virus by touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.

•Cover your nose and mouth. Whenever you cough or sneeze, cover your nose or mouth to prevent germs from spreading, and then use proper hand hygiene afterwards

Remember to practice good health habits. This includes disinfecting the surfaces in your home and workspace, getting a good night’s sleep, staying active, and drinking lots of fluids. If you begin to show signs of the flu, please contact a health representative. Antiviral drugs can help treat the flu so you can start feeling better quickly.

 Find out where to get vaccinated here.