Please take the following steps to protect your family this influenza season:
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect nose, throat and lungs. Influenza is primarily spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing. This can happen when droplets from coughing and/or sneezing of an infected person travel through the air and reach the mouth or nose of people nearby. Sometimes flu can spread when a person touches droplets, nose drainage or saliva from an infected person, or a soiled object such as a tissue, and then touches one’s own (or someone else’s) nose of mouth before washing hands. In order to reduce the spread of influenza we are asking families to assist us with the following:
- Teach your children to wash their hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Teach your children not to share personal items like drinks, food or unwashed utensils, and to cover their coughs and sneezes with tissues.
- Know the signs and symptoms of influenza. Symptoms of influenza include fever (100 degrees Fahrenheit, 37.8 Celsius or greater) cough, sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache and feeling very tired. Some people may also vomit or have diarrhea.
- You may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day BEFORE symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days AFTER becoming sick.
- Keep sick children at home for at least 24 hours AFTER they no longer have fever or do not have signs of fever without using fever-reducing medications.
- An important step in preventing the flu is to get an influenza vaccine each year.
Remember the 3C’s:
Clean your hands
Cover your cough
Contain – stay home when you are sick
Melissa Paulissen, M.D.
Health Officer Tillamook County Community Health Centers