PHOENIX (Jan. 17, 2013) – Health officials are reporting widespread influenza outbreaks in 47 of 50 states, including in Arizona, and the American Red Cross Grand Canyon Chapter urges people who haven’t received a flu shot to quickly get vaccinated. The Red Cross also has steps people can take to prevent the spread of the virus during what’s the worst flu outbreak in the U.S. in several years.
People 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends covering your nose and your mouth with a tissue or a sleeve when coughing or sneezing, then throwing the tissue away. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands. Wash your hands after coughing or sneezing. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Avoid touching your eyes, your nose and your mouth.
Common signs of the flu are a high fever, severe body aches, a headache, extreme fatigue, a sore throat, a cough, a runny or a stuffy nose, vomiting and diarrhea. Seek medical attention if you develop fast breathing, trouble breathing or bluish skin color; pain or pressure in your chest or your abdomen; confusion or sudden dizziness; or trouble eating. Warning signs of the flu for children are being so irritable that they don’t want to be held, a rash that accompanies a fever and no tears when crying.
If someone in your household has the flu, designate one person as the caregiver and have other family members avoid close contact with the person with the flu. Make sure the sick person stays at home and rests until the fever is gone. Designate a sick room for the sick person. If there’s more than one sick person, it’s OK to have them share the sick room. If there’s more than one bathroom, designate one for those who are sick. Give each sick person their own drinking glass, washcloth and towel. Have tissues, a trash can lined with a plastic trash bag, an alcohol-based hand rub, a cooler or a pitcher with ice and drinks, a thermometer and a cup with a straw or a squeeze bottle in the sick room or near the sick person. A humidifier offers extra moisture, making it easier for the sick person to breathe. Sick people should wear a facemask when they leave the sick room or are around others.
Provide plenty of liquids at the first sign of the flu and while the flu persists. Treat a fever and a cough with medicine that can be purchased at a store. If people become very sick, are pregnant or have a medical condition, such as asthma, that puts them at higher risk of flu complications, call a doctor. Keep everyone’s personal items separate. Disinfect common household items, as well as surfaces and furniture in the home. Clean dishes in the dishwasher or by hand using soap and hot water. When washing clothes, use detergent and hot water, tumble dry the clothes and clean your hands after touching dirty laundry. Wear disposable gloves when in contact with or cleaning up body fluids.