Tom DotyTimes Columnist
December 19, 2012
WILLIAMSON — Area physicians and emergency room employees at both the Williamson Memorial Hospital and the South Williamson, Ky., Appalachian Regional Hospital are reporting an increase in cases of influenza (flu) within the months of November and December of this year. Tips are being offered that will assist in decreasing your chances of becoming infected.
Influenza, or as some refer to it, the seasonal flu, is defined as several common strains (specific forms) of flu virus that go around each year, mainly in fall and winter. A yearly vaccine can go a long way in your preventive measures. Seasonal flu symptoms typically start within a ten day period of being exposed (possibly within 2-3) and the symptoms included fever, chills, headache, body aches, sore throat, coughing, sneezing and shortness of breath.
You are encouraged to take the following steps to help avoid getting or spreading flu germs:
• Germs spread mainly through people’s coughs and sneezes. Droplets containing germs can spray through the air and into the mouths or noses of people nearby; onto surfaces that people come in contact with before touching their nose, mouth or eyes; in rare cases, humans can also catch flu germs from an infected bird, pig or other animal. This could happen through contact with feces, saliva, mucus, raw meat or raw eggs from the animal.
• Cover your coughs and sneezes by using a tissue (use your upper sleeve if a tissue is not available, not your hands). Put the used tissue in a wastebasket, do not reuse it. Stay at least 6 feet away from others if you’re coughing and sneezing, or if they are.
• Wash your hand often and wash them well. Be sure to scrub your hands and wrist for at least 20 seconds with an antibacterial soap product. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands. Keep an alcohol based hand sanitizer handy for times when soap and water aren’t available.
• If you get sick, act responsibly. If you think you may have caught a flu virus, contact your health care provider, a clinic or an emergency room. Ask if you should remain absent from work or school and if so, for what period of time. Avoid direct contact with family members by staying in separate rooms if possible. Be sure to take the complete regiment of any medications you are prescribed to assure you are germ free.
You may learn more about ways to avoid the flu by contacting your physician or the Mingo County Health Department at 304-235-3570.