The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) warns that this flu season will be severe, especially for people aged 65 years and older, and young children. Flu viruses constantly change or “drift.” Experts try to predict the most likely strains of the virus that need to be included in the vaccine. However, this year, lab tests show that most of the H3N2 viruses that are circulating are somewhat different than the vaccine. This means we all should put even more emphasis on personal prevention practices.
Here are 7 simple practices that can help prevent the spread of influenza.
- Stay home when you are sick, and encourage loved ones to stay home when they are sick. Offer to run errands for people who are feeling under-the-weather, and remind them that their health (and everyone else’s) may be more important than today’s To Do list.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. This is a tough one when it comes to our family! They’re called “loved ones” because we love to be close to them. Try to save the hugs and kisses for when they are feeling better.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. The virus is spread through droplets. When you sneeze, droplets can travel as far as 6 feet.
- Clean your hands frequently using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with your hands. Infections can occur when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her face.
- Disinfect all your frequently touched surfaces at home and work including doorknobs, telephone, computer mouse and keyboard, salt and pepper shakers, kitchen cabinets and drawers, and faucet handles.
- Focus on overall wellness — eat nutritiously, get enough sleep, drink plenty of water, and manage your stress.
For more information on the 2015 Influenza Season visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.