How to Protect Yourself and Others From Getting Sick

The cold and flu season has officially descended upon us. Everyone, everywhere is getting sick. To my dismay, I have been sick twice in the last few months–it hasn’t been fun. Making matters worse for me is that cancer and chemotherapy treatments have left me with a weak immune system. This means I am more susceptible to catching a cold, the flu or anything else going around.

As such, I have a major pet peeve; people who don’t cover their mouth when they cough or sneeze. People who don’t stay at home when they are sick. People who don’t seem to care about the health of others. I see it everywhere.

By people, I mean adults. Adults who should know better.

According to the CDC

Flu viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person through droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze, or talk. Flu viruses also may spread when people touch something with flu virus on it and then touch their mouth, eyes, or nose.

And the same applies to the common cold. Even if you don’t feel sick, if you cough or sneeze please cover up. People infected with flu may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5-7 days after becoming sick. That means you may be able to spread the flu to someone else before you even know you are sick (as well as while you are sick).

Quick fact

In 2009 the US experienced an outbreak of the swine flu (you may remember this). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vaccine availability was limited that year because the virus wasn’t identified until manufacturers had already started producing the annual vaccine. This means, some people, went without the vaccine.

What did they do?

The health organizations reminded people to wash their hands with warm soap and water. And advised people to stay home and recover if they were sick.

And today, the rules of prevention still apply. To help stop the spread of germs:

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

• Stay home when you are sick.

• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

• Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

• 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.

And did I mention, PLEASE STAY HOME when you are sick.

End of article

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