Red Cross Offers Top Five Flu Prevention Steps

Influenza is widespread in 35 states.

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.

Flu season is here and more and more people across the country are getting sick. The American Red Cross urges people to get vaccinated now, and offers tips everyone can follow to help prevent the spread of the flu.

Steps to prevent the flu

The most important step someone can take is to get a flu vaccine. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older. 

Other steps people can take to help prevent the spread of the flu virus:

1. Stay home if sick. 

2. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

3. Cover the nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing, and throw the tissue away after use. If that’s not possible, cough or sneeze into the elbow, not the hands. People with the flu can spread it to others about six feet away through coughs and sneezes.

4. Wash hands often, especially after coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand-rub.

5. Avoid touching the eyes, nose or mouth. 

“If someone has the flu they should avoid contact with others as much as possible,” said Lynne Osborne, Preparedness, Health and Safety, American Red Cross. “Everyone should also disinfect surfaces used commonly such as door knobs, switches, phones, computers and remote controls."

Do I have the flu?

The common signs of influenza are high fever, severe body aches, headache, being extremely tired, sore throat, cough, runny or stuffy nose, and vomiting and/or diarrhea (more common in children). If someone thinks they have the flu, their health-care provider should be consulted. Someone should seek medical care immediately if they develop any of the following symptoms:

  • Fast breathing, trouble breathing or bluish skin color.
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen (adults).
  • Confusion or sudden dizziness.
  • Not drinking enough fluids, not being able to eat, or severe or persistent vomiting.
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough. 
  • Children - not waking up, being so irritable that the child does not want to be held or not interacting. Fever with a rash. No tears when crying or significantly fewer wet diapers than normal.
According to a recent report for the week of Dec. 29 to Jan. 4 from the Centers for Disease Control, 35 states are seeing widespread flu activity, up from 25 states a week earlier. 

Those states include: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California,Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma,Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia,Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. 

Most other regions are also reporting a number of residents sick with influenza.

For more information about influenza and how to help stop the spread of the flu virus, go to www.redcross.org.


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