Local flu cases skyrocket as docs warn ‘protect yourself’!

AmNews Staff Reports | 1/2/2020, midnight
As local families flock to holiday parties and travel to grandma’s house, flu is now widespread locally, as well as ...
Medicine CDC/ Debora Cartagena acquired from Public Health Image Library

As local families flock to holiday parties and travel to grandma’s house, flu is now widespread locally, as well as in more than 20 other states. Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate there is good chance that flu activity could peak before the end of the year.

While the number one way to protect yourself from catching the bug over the holidays is to get a flu vaccine, local physicians with American Family Care are spreading the word about ways you can avoid flu germs as the virus continues to spread like wildfire.

Consider that this time last flu season, only three states reported widespread flu. Today 23 states are reporting widespread flu.

In a recent media report, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases medical director Dr. William Schaffner says a B strain of influenza is dominant, which is “weird.” Usually, we do not hear about B until the end of flu season, in early spring. The “B virus” can infect anyone, and it generally strikes children and young adults more than the elderly.

Harvard University researchers say 20-30% of people carrying the flu virus do not have symptoms and they can spread flu germs to others up to six feet away! Use a tape measure to demonstrate the distance. It’s never too late to get a flu shot. It will not make you sick, it is a booster that helps your body fight off possible infection. The flu vaccine prevents death.

“Flu is a very contagious illness that we all should take very seriously this time of year,” says Dr. Benjamin Barlow, chief medical officer of American Family Care, the nation’s leading healthcare network with a local clinic. “The holiday season is a hot time for flu season because people are spending more time indoors together whether it be at a social gathering or because it is just too cold to go outside. Getting the flu shot and following a few habits to avoid flu germs can keep you healthy throughout the peak of the season.”

Dr. Barlow recommends five ways to stay healthy and avoid flu germs over the holidays:

-Knuckle it. When using a debit card machine while shopping for holiday gifts, get into the habit of punching in your card pin with a knuckle instead of a fingertip. This way if you rub your eye or mouth with your fingertip, you’re not transferring germs.

-Taking a flight to grandmas? Pack sanitizing wipes. Our nation’s airports are covered in germs over the holidays. A study by a microbiologist with travelmath.com found the plane seatbelt buckle, seat tray table and the toilet flush button among the top spots coated with germs on a plane! Your best defense, wipe down your space with a “flu-germ killing” sanitizing wipe before you sit down for take-off.

-Stop Vaping! We’ve heard the stories about the hundreds of respiratory illnesses related to vaping this year. New research published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine reveals puffing on an e-cigarette also disrupts your normal immune response to viral infections, like flu.

-Play it safe at the pump. Drivers must get gas for their vehicles no matter what, sick or not. Protect yourself at the pump, grab a paper towel before picking up the gas nozzle. You can also use the paper towel as a barrier when punching in your debit/credit card info.

-Hang up your Superman or Supergirl cape. If you are starting to feel sick, don’t try to be a superhero and do it all. No one wants to be exposed to your germs. Stay home from either work or school and don’t even run errands like to the drug store to get medicine. When you have a fever, you should always stay home at least 24 hours AFTER your fever is gone.