Flu is now widespread in 45 states, up from 36 states last week according to the Centers for Disease Control; only Alaska, Hawaii, Colorado, Indiana and West Virginia have managed to escape widespread outbreaks of the flu. Two pediatric deaths – including one in Alabama – were reported last week bringing the total number this flu season to 24.
No information on where the child lived or its age has been made available at this time, and while most states are reporting heavy flu activity, levels remain lower than they were this time last year, according to the CDC.
What can you do to prevent the spread of flu?
- Get vaccinated.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- Stay home if you are sick and limit contact with others.
- 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 receive medical attention or for any other necessities. (Remember, your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine before you leave home otherwise.)
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. After using a tissue, throw it in the trash and wash your hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
To help prevent flu at work, home and school clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs. This is especially important for any frequently touched objects such as doorknobs, remote controls and faucets. Flu viruses can live on hard surfaces for up to 24 hours.
Clean with antibacterial cleaner or a solution of 2 teaspoons of bleach per gallon of water.
Don’t share towels, sheets, toys, utensils or other personal items with infected people.
If possible, limit time with an infected person.
- Find out about what plans your child’s school, daycare program, or college has if an outbreak of flu or other illness occurs and whether flu vaccinations are offered on-site.
- Question your child’s school, daycare program, or college’s cleaning practices.
- Ask how sick students and staff are separated from others and who will care for them until they can go home.
- Routinely clean any frequently touched objects and surfaces – including doorknobs, keyboards, and phones, to help remove germs.
- Make sure your workplace has an adequate supply of tissues, soap, paper towels, alcohol-based hand rubs, and disposable wipes.
- Train others on how to do your job so they can cover for you in case you or a family member gets sick and you have to stay home.
- If you begin to feel sick while at work, go home as soon as possible.