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Red Cross Tips for Avoiding the Seasonal Flu

Flu Season
The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each year and practicing good hygiene skills.

The flu has hit Southern California. The current strain is stronger, and the risk group is much broader than in past years. The Red Cross has tips to help you avoid getting sick this winter.

Flu is the common term for influenza, a contagious respiratory disease caused by different strains of viruses. In the United States, there is a flu season that begins every fall and ends every spring. There have been over ten flu-related deaths in Los Angeles County so far this year.

Flu viruses spread from person to person when people who are infected cough or sneeze. Adults may be able to infect others 1 day before getting symptoms themselves and as long as 5 days after getting sick.

The strain that is affecting thousands this year is similar to the H1N1 virus strain and is causing thousands to be hospitalized across the country. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each year and practicing good hygiene skills.

The Red Cross offers you these tips to avoid infection and stay healthy through the season:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective when soap and water aren’t available.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way. Try to avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Flu is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing.
  • If you get sick, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them
  • Here are the common flu symptoms:

    NOTE: Having all of these symptoms doesn’t always mean that you have the flu. Many different illnesses have similar symptoms.

  • Severe body aches
  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea (more common in children than in adults)
  • What you need to know

  • Every year in the United States, on average 5 to 20 percent of the population gets the flu; more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications.
  • 36,000 people die from flu-related causes.
  • Older people, young children and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.
  • More than 90 percent of the deaths and 60 percent of the hospitalizations occur in patients over 65.