As the Eastern Shore Health District is receiving more reports of influenza in our community, we would like to remind everyone there are several things that you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones from getting the flu at home, school, or work.

Keep Your Hands Clean!

  • Clean hands are another important factor in preventing the spread of disease, including influenza.
    • Soap and water cleans hands that are visibly dirty, contaminated, or soiled. Hand-cleaning helps after using the restroom, and before eating or preparing food.
    • Alcohol-based hand-rubs are products that kill germs on the hands. They are fast-acting, convenient, and generally can be used for all situations other than the ones described above. Be sure to use hand rubs that contain 60-95% ethanol or isopropanol (types of alcohol).
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Practice Good Respiratory Hygiene and Cough Etiquette!

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or turn your head into your sleeve when coughing or sneezing. Do not cough or sneeze on your hands. This spreads influenza virus to everything that your hands touch.
  • Promptly throw away tissues after they are used, then, wash your hands or use hand sanitize

Stay Home if You Are Sick!!

  • If you are sick, avoid contact with other people, unless you are seeking medical care. In that case, many doctors prefer a phone call from the patient rather than just walking into the office unannounced, where waiting people and children may be vulnerable to spread of the flu from you to them. Follow your primary care provider’s instructions.
  • Don’t share glassware, silverware, or personal items with healthy people in your household.
  • Don’t return to work, school, or other activities until you are fever-free for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing medication.       You need time to rest.       Returning too soon may prolong your illness as well as infect others.

Use Antiviral Drugs if Recommended by Your Doctor

  • If you have the flu or have been exposed to the flu, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral drug for you to take. These are most effective when given early in the illness.
  • When used for treatment, antiviral drugs can lesson symptoms and shorten the time you are sick by 1 or 2 days. They can also prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia, especially in the elderly, people with weakened immune systems, or those with high risk medical conditions such as asthma or heart disease.
  • Antiviral drugs differ from most other antibiotics, those which fight against bacterial infections. Anti-bacterial drugs are not effective against influenza.

Keep Your Environment Clean!

  • If taking care of yourself or a sick person at home, make sure that you clean and disinfect surfaces and objects at may become contaminated with the influenza virus, such as kitchen counters, bedside tables, children’s toys, and surfaces in the bathroom, especially if you have others at home who are not sick.
  • Wipe these surfaces down with an approved household disinfectant (such as Clorox wipes) according to directions on the product label.
  • Clean linens, eating utensils, and dishes used by the sick person thoroughly before reusing. You do not need to wash items separately. Wash linens (such as bed sheets and towels) with laundry soap and tumble dry on a hot setting. Avoid “hugging” laundry to your body before washing it to prevent contaminating yourself.

Get Vaccinated!

  • Influenza vaccination is the primary method for preventing the flu and its severe complications for individuals over 6 months of age. Protection develops about two weeks after getting the vaccine and may last up to a year. This protection is with one all-the-time once immunity is stimulated.

For more information, please go to http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/