NIHD news release

(Second in a three-part series)

As of this writing, 47 of the 50 states are suffering a widespread influenza outbreak, or more commonly known as the flu. All signs indicate we are not facing a flu pandemic this year, but flu pandemics have and will continue to result in deaths.

flu vaccine

An influenza pandemic is a global outbreak of a new influenza virus that is different from current or recent circulating human influenza viruses. Flu viruses are constantly changing, making it possible on infrequent occasions for non-human flu viruses to improve in such a way that they can infect people easily and spread efficiently from person to person.

The most recent pandemic occurred in 2009 with the H1N1 virus, which caused more than 200,000 deaths worldwide. The worst flu pandemic on record is that of 1918, which killed an estimated 50 to 100 million people worldwide and remains one of the most studied pandemics of all time.

By studying our history of pandemics and how the flu spread to even the most remote parts of the world, Medical experts have been able to develop tried-and-true prevention methods to which we should all adhere.

What can I do to help prevent the spread of the flu?

The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu. There also are antiviral drugs that can be used to treat and prevent influenza.

The tips below, from the national Centers for Disease Control and Northern Inyo Healthcare District, will help you learn about steps you can take to protect yourself and others from flu and help stop the spread of germs:

Avoid close contact

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

Stay home when you are sick.

If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.

Cover your mouth and nose

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Flu and other acute respiratory illnesses, like a respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), whooping cough, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), are spread by cough, sneezing, or unclean hands.

Clean your hands
Frequent washing of your hands will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

Practice other good health habits
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

Up Next: How Healthcare experts ward off the flu

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