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January 17, 2013

Steps to prevent the spread of the flu

The Red Cross has steps people can take to prevent the spread of the flu virus during what the Centers for Disease Control described as the worst influenza outbreak in several years.

Steps to prevent the flu

The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6  months old and older as the first and most important step in protecting someone against flu viruses. In addition to getting vaccinated, the Red Cross has some simple steps people can take to help prevent the spread of the flu virus.

Parents can also practice these things with their kids to help keep them well:

• Cover the nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing, and throw the tissue away after use. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into the elbow, not the hands.

• Wash hands often, especially after coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand-rub.

• Avoid touching the eyes, nose or mouth.

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

• Stay home if sick.

Signs of the flu

How does someone know he has the flu? The common signs of influenza are high fever, severe body aches, headache, being extremely tired, sore throat, cough, runny or stuffy nose, and vomiting and/or diarrhea (more common in children).

If someone in the household does come down with the flu, the Red Cross wants everyone to know the best way to care for them:

• Designate one person as the caregiver and have the other household members avoid close contact with that person so they won’t become sick.

• Make sure the person stays at home and rests until 24 hours after the fever is gone.

• Designate a sick room for the person if possible. If there is more than one sick person, they can share the sick room if needed. If there is more than one bathroom, designate one for those who are sick to use. Give each sick person his or her own drinking glass, washcloth and towel.

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