Wilmington Residents Trying to Beat the Flu
Health Director Shelly Newhouse offers some tips to get through flu season healthy.
On January 9, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino declared a public health emergency because of the flu outbreak that was quickly overtaking the city. At that point the state of Massachusetts had already suffered 18 flu related deaths and Menino was encouraging residents who had not already received a flu shot to get one.
While the official health emergency was declared in Boston, that didn’t
mean that cities and towns throughout the state were not entering into the same dangerous situation. The 2013 flu season is well underway and, by all accounts, it’s going to be memorable one.
Not all individuals affected by the flu require medical attention and because of that, it is practically impossible to know exactly how many people are or have been suffering from it. Wilmington, like most of the state, has already been hard hit by the flu.
It is often difficult to differentiate between the dreaded winter cold and the even more dreaded flu bug. When you are home sick and feeling dreadful you truly don’t care what you have. You just want it to go away.
The key differences between a cold and the flu are simple. With a cold you almost never have a fever, you feel stuffiness in your head and you
feel a little sick. With the flu, however, you have a fever and your entire body
“The Flu is caused by the Influenza virus," Shelly Newhouse, R.S., the Director of Public Health in Wilmington explained. "Flu spreads easily from person to person. When people with the flu cough or sneeze, the flu virus is in the wet spray that comes out of their nose and mouth.”
In other words the flu is highly contagious and you need to take steps to prevent it.
The first line of defense is, without a doubt getting a flu shot. As of today, Newhouse pointed out, the town of Wilmington is out of the vaccine but residents should contact local pharmacies and health care providers to get immunized.
In addition to getting a flu vaccine, Newhouse had a number of additional suggestions to help lower your chances of getting the flu.
- Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Use a household cleaner to clean things that are touched often like door and refrigerator handles, computer keyboards/mouse, phones and kids’ toys.
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water, or use an alcohol based hand gel.
- Keep about 3 to 6 feet between yourself and other people.
The flu hides in a lot of familiar places and, in addition to our homes, everyday places like ATM machines, shopping carts, gym equipment and even gas pumps are high on the list of offenders.
Of course, even though we have all been taught that sharing is a good thing, the flu is better kept to ourselves.
“If you are sick, stay home," said Newhouse. "You can spread the flu even if you feel better. Adults can spread the flu for about 5 days and kids can spread the flu for 7 days.”
New moms in particular need to be careful, according to Newhouse.
“If you are breastfeeding your baby and have the flu, you might want to wear a facemask so your baby doesn’t get sick,” said Newhouse.
The age old rules of covering your mouth when you sneeze and coughing into your elbow still apply and can go a long way towards keeping the flu from spreading.
Chances are good that, as you read this article you have the flu or know someone else who does. The good news is that some good preventative measures can either keep the flu away or, at the very least, slow its spread.
Oh, and did we mention that spring is right around the corner?