Editorial: Tips on how to avoid the flu

It's yucky, painful and will make you feel downright miserable.

We're talking about the flu, which has been sweeping through the nation — and our area — quickly and sooner than usual.

Flu season usually goes from Oct. 1 to March 31. Many of our family, friends and co-workers have already been stricken with the flu. In fact, Hamilton Medical Center has treated 229 people with confirmed cases of flu. The local outbreak of the flu has been so severe that the hospital has instituted temporary restrictions on visitors. Read the story on page 1A of Sunday's newspaper.

To help cut down on the spread of the flu and uncomfortable stomach viruses, follow these recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits/index.htm):

• Get a flu shot. This will protect you against the flu virus, which will be especially critical if you are infected with some other virus.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

• While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them, especially avoiding healthcare facilities and long-term care homes.

• Avoid having children inside healthcare facilities and long-term care homes to protect them from catching viruses and to prevent them from spreading viruses to the people who are there.

• If you are sick with flu-like illness, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)

• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.

• Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

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