By Kendra Gohl, Director of Nursing, Infection Preventionist
As you may have heard, a local 15-year-old recently died from influenza, and many more people in the region are ill with influenza, or the flu.
This young man’s death is tragic, and relatively uncommon in recent decades. However, the flu virus is very contagious and can lead to pneumonia or death in some people.
Columbia Memorial Hospital and the CMH clinics have seen an increase in the number of people suffering with flu. You can protect yourself and others from getting or spreading the flu with some simple precautions.
I highly recommend that you get a flu shot. Getting an influenza vaccine is your first step in preventing the flu. The vaccine will either prevent you from getting the flu—which can last 14-21 days—or it will lessen the symptoms and shorten the amount of time you’re sick with flu. Call your doctor, pharmacy or the County Health Department to ask how you can get vaccinated for flu.
Here are some tips from the CDC on how you can prevent the flu:
1. Avoid close contact.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
2. Stay home when you are sick.
If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.
3. Cover your mouth and nose.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
4. Clean your hands.
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
6. Practice other good health habits.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
The flu is contagious for up to 3 days before symptoms begin. And symptoms often begin suddenly.
If you think you might have the flu then I encourage you to seek care from home through the CMH Virtual Clinic, call your primary care provider, or come to a CMH Urgent Care clinic. If you start on antivirals within 48 hours of your symptoms, then length of illness and severity of your symptoms may be drastically reduced.
Updated: March 13, 2019
Media Contact: Felicia Struve, 503-338-4504
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