The flu season is here and there has been an increase in the number of people diagnosed with Influenza, especially on the East Coast of the United States. Locally, the majority of the patients who have presented to Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center, or RWBAHC, are younger children and adults who have not received their vaccines.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the key to stopping the spread of influenza is by getting vaccinated and by frequent hand washing or hand hygiene. Children, people over 65 and anyone with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, asthm, and cancer need to keep their immune systems strong to fight off the flu. Proper nutrition, exercise, hand washing, and staying home when feeling sick are other ways to prevent the spread of the flu.
The flu virus is spread by germs that travel through the air and fall on surfaces people touch. When individuals touch their faces, they potentially expose themselves to infectious organisms which they pick up from touching computer keyboards, telephones, door handles and other frequently touched areas. Some organisms that cause disease, including the influenza virus, can live on dry surfaces for several days.
Besides vaccination, there are other easy methods to protect yourself and your family. Clean frequently touched surfaces regularly with bleach and water to kill viruses. Vigorously wash hands for 15 seconds throughout the day or use hand sanitizer when water and soap are not available. Another method to keep germs from spreading include coughing or sneezing into the elbow area to contain the germs.
A few vaccination options still remain. The 24-hour RWBAHC Flu hotline, 533.2997, has recorded information and is updated as new information becomes available.
Those with flu symptoms which may include fever greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, coughing, congestion, body aches or tiredness for more than 24 hours should make an appointment to see their primary care manager. Same-day appointments are available during weekdays at RWBAHC by calling 533.9200. The weekend and holiday clinic appointment line is open from 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. on weekends and holidays, except Christmas and Thanksgiving.
Those who come down with influenza may find these home remedies help make them recover faster: stay home from school or work, rest for 24 hours after the fever ends, take a fever-reducing medication, and drink plenty of clear fluids.