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Public officials offer flu prevention tips

November 28, 2012
By Casey Houser - Staff Writer (chouser@theintermountain.com) , The Inter-Mountain

Cold weather is once again upon the area, and concerns are growing about the spread of the common cold and flu virus.

The Inter-Mountain spoke to several medical officials in Randolph County about the current state of public health. Beth Bond, infection preventionist at Davis Memorial Hospital, offered advice about what people can do to prevent the onset of a cold.

"Everybody should be getting their influenza vaccination," she said. "It's best to be vaccinated early."

Bond said there hasn't been a recent change in the rate of people coming to the hospital for flu-like symptoms. However, this isn't the time to let down one's guard.

"We haven't been hit this year, but it's coming," she said.

Bond mentioned a host of things that local residents can do to keep themselves healthy.

One of the most important things is cough etiquette, such as coughing into a sleeve or tissue, not out into the open. And washing one's hands is essential.

"Wash your hands a lot," Bond said.

If sickness strikes, it's advisable to stay at home and keep hydrated, she said.

Bond mentioned the difference between a cold and the flu, and she spoke about the need to see a physician.

The flu will give the host a fever, up to 101 or 102 degrees, and will cause the body to ache. It comes on suddenly and can last for over a week, about seven to 10 days.

The common cold, on the other hand usually will not cause a fever in adults, she said. It progresses slower than the flu and will not last as long, around four to five days.

Bond said contracting the flu can be a good reason to call the doctor. Anti-viral treatments - pills - are most effective if taken within the first 48 hours of catching the flu.

Bond advised calling a physician first, for adults.

She also said no hesitation should be taken if a child shows flu symptoms and calling or visiting the doctor is a good idea for children with symptoms.

Bonnie Woodrum, infectious disease specialist at the Randolph County Health Department, confirmed Bond's statements.

"There is no real flu around (currently)," Woodrum said.

She warned, however, that seasonal viruses are an issue of which to take note.

Prevention is key, she said, through hand washing and cough etiquette.

"(Seasonal viruses) are all spread by contact," Woodrum said. Sneezing and coughing are common methods of transmission.

Bond touched on this subject when asked about how weather affects the spread of viruses.

She said it's not weather, specifically, that helps to transmit the flu. Instead, close contact with other people increases during the holidays.

"People gather together (for the holidays)," she said.

Families and friends meet more often and may come from different areas of the country, arriving by plane or car. The various methods, and distances, of travel make it easy for viruses to spread from one area of the country to another.

Contact Casey Houser by email at chouser@theintermountain.com.

 
 

 

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