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News Story
Updated: 02/17/2017 08:30:02AM

We still have a ways to go

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Unless you are living under a rock or have your head buried in the sand, then you are aware that the flu is making its way through Highlands County.

Offices have fewer employees showing up for work because they are home in bed with the stomach flu or severe respiratory issues. Those employees who are exhibiting symptoms that their bosses would rather they kept home.

The Highlands County Health Department has confirmed that, so far, we are currently experiencing a mild rate of flu activity. However, officials also warn that flu activity in Florida is expected to remain at an elevated level for several weeks.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu activity continues to increase and is widespread in most of the United States. As of this week, the agency was reporting flu activity to be widespread in 43 states, including Florida. The number of people seeing their health care provider for influenza-like-illness has been at or above the national baseline for eight consecutive weeks so far this season.

Getting an annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu. Vaccinations can reduce flu illnesses, doctor’s visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations.

According to the CDC, only injectable flu shots are recommended this flu season. Health officials say that if the flu season’s most active part is still ahead of us, there is still timke to get a vaccination.

It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the body to protect against the flu.

While most cases of flu are mild, there are some exceptions and those are the most vulnerable – children, seniors, pregnant women, those with chronic conditions and people over the age of 65.

The timing of flu is almost as unpredictable as its severity. It can vary in different parts of the country and from season to season, and year to year. Seasonal flu viruses can be detected year-round, but according to the CDC, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May.

We still have a long way to go, so we encourage everyone to shield yourself.

Aside from getting a flu vaccine, all of us should avoid close contact with sick people. If you are the one who is sick, be kind and limit your contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them. The CDC recommends those who are sick with flu symptoms to stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities.

Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and be sure to throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. Don’t sit it on the desk or the table until a later time.

Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs can even spread this way.

And always clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu. In doing so, don’t forget the door knows and light switches.

Office managers can put together a “flu prevention kit” that includes paper towels to use instead of sponges to help keep surfaces germ-free, a disinfectant spray to fight germs on plastic and stainless steel surfaces where they can live up to 48 hours, hand sanitizer to keep workers’ hands clean, pens so that each employee has their own stockpile of pens, and hand sanitizer wipes for employees to keep at their desks.

Employers should take a lesson from day care facilities. If an employee comes to work sick, send them home so that they don’t infect the entire staff. Designate someone to use a hand sanitizer wipe to clean the computer keyboard, mouse, telephone keypad and mouthpiece, anything that the employee has touched on a regular basis. That way the employee doesn’t get re-infected upon returning to work.

Most commonly, flu activity peaks in the U.S. between December and March, so we still have a ways to go.


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