Per the CDC’s latest reports, the flu has now been reported as widespread in 42 states plus New York City and the District of Columbia, with 53 pediatric flu-related deaths reported so far. What this means for most, and certainly those with children, is that the flu is much closer to you and your home than you may think. While most of the recommendations for prevention should be practiced throughout the year, it’s more important right now to follow these steps to prevent sickness for not only you and your family, but numerous others.
Wash Your Hands and Avoid High Germ Areas
If you have small children, we understand that almost every area is a “high germ” area. However, it’s important to make sure that you are avoiding contact with individuals who are sick and areas they may frequent at all costs. In both your home and office, try to keep your common areas frequently disinfected, including doorknobs, countertops, phones, keyboards, and anything else multiple people may touch.
Most importantly, wash your hands. No, this doesn’t mean running cold water over them after leaving the bathroom. Rather, take a full 20-30 seconds and scrub your hands, including between your fingers and under your nails, with warm water and soap. If you do not have this readily available, keep a supply of alcohol based hand sanitizer around, but do not use this as a full time alternative.
Get a Flu Shot
If you haven’t already, make your way to your physician (or local pharmacy) for a flu shot. While the vaccine is not 100% protection, it is certainly the best at this point in time. In fact, the CDC recommends everyone over 6 months be vaccinated each and every year. If the flu shot does not prevent you from getting sick, it will certainly help reduce the severity of the illness if contracted.
Visit Your Doctor and Take Antiviral Medication When Prescribed
If you feel that you may be coming down with the flu, or have come in contact with anyone that has had the flu, it’s important to visit your primary physician as early as possible. While there are many symptoms associated with the flu, some are mistaken for a common cold. This can lead to very serious illnesses – especially in those 65 or older, pregnant, or young children – and can result in hospitalization. If your doctor prescribes you an antiviral drug, be sure to take this as directed. These are different than typical antibiotics and are used to directly treat the flu virus.
For Our Patients Who Are Expecting
If you begin feeling ill with any of the symptoms of the flu or a family member has recently been diagnosed, please contact us right away. Also, please know that getting your flu vaccination is the most effective way to prevent getting the flu while pregnant.