Flu season is mainly a fall and winter virus. It changes from year to year and spreads easily. It infects the nose, throat and lungs. Symptoms include fever, chills, sore throat, cough, stuffy nose, fatigue, headache and muscle ache. However, there are ways that the flu can be prevented.

  1. Get immunized each year. A yearly flu vaccine is the best protection against seasonal flu. The vaccine is recommended for people 6 months of age and older.
  2. Wash your hands. Do it often and do it well. Use soap and water. Scrub all surfaces for at least 20 seconds.
  3. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Use it any time soap and water are not available. Make sure the hand sanitizer is at least 60% alcohol.
  4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. The flu virus can live on other people’s hands or on surfaces. It can get on your hands if you touch that person or thing. Then the virus can enter your body if you touch your eyes, nose or mouth before washing.
  5. Cover coughs and sneezes. Use a tissue. Then wash your hands.
  6. Clean and disinfect regularly. This can help kill the flu virus on surfaces. Focus on areas that are touched often. Some examples: kitchen counters, bather faucets, door knobs, telephones, handrails and keyboards.
  7. Take care of yourself. Healthy habits can help boost your immune system. Get plenty of sleep. Eat a variety of healthy foods every day. Drink plenty of water. Get regular physical activity. Manager your stress: take breaks and try relaxation techniques.
  8. Keep your distance from sick people. If a family member has the flu, wash your hands often. Try to avoid crowded place and public gatherings as much as possible.
  9. Don’t share personal items. Avoid sharing: eating utensils, towels, cups or straws, toothbrushes.
  10. Teach children good hygiene habits. School age children are more likely to catch and spread the flu. Teach them how to:  properly cover coughs and sneezes. Wash hands well (20 seconds).
  11. If you have the flu, avoid spreading it. Stay home while you are sick. Generally, this is until at least 24 hours after a fever is gone. Follow your health provider’s advice. Take any medication exactly as prescribed.
  12. Prepare for the next flu pandemic. Keep an emergency kit stocked with food, water and other supplies to last for at least 2 weeks in case of a severe pandemic. A kit can help if you must stay home or if supplies run low.

For more information, you can contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at 1-800-232-4636.

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