Containing The Contagion: Simple Steps To Fight The Flu

It comes on suddenly with a raw scratchy throat, a mild to severe headache, fatigue, and a runny nose. You suspect you’re coming down with a cold but soon a fever develops and your body is racked by chills and miserable aching. You’ve been hit by the flu!

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports widespread influenza activity in just about all of the continental United States as of January 10th with the flu season peaking in February and extending into May. While most people recover from the flu in 3 days to 2 weeks, some people will develop complications that can be life-threatening. The severity of the flu largely depends on the strain of influenza virus and the ability of the person’s immune system to mount an effective response. In the context of the flu’s affect on business, the National Business Group on Health reports the seasonal flu costs businesses approximately $10.4 billion in direct costs for hospitalizations and outpatient visits for adults each year. The flu is responsible for 200 million days of diminished productivity, 100 million days of bed disability and 75 million days of work absence.

Given the serious personal and financial impact of the flu as a contagious disease, the CDC urges people to take the following action on fighting the flu.

  1. First and foremost, get an annual flu shot. While this season’s flu vaccine doesn’t quite match the current strains of circulating influenza, the vaccine can still help to limit the severity of symptoms.
  2. Practice good cough and sneeze etiquette by covering your mouth and nose using a tissue or upper shirt sleeve.
  3. Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  4. Avoid touching your face, nose, eyes, and mouth as mucous membranes are a site of entry.
  5. Regularly clean and disinfect touch surfaces (fomites) including cell phones, touch pads, and tablets.
  6. Limit contact with others when having flu-like symptoms and avoid close contact with sick people.
  7. If sick with the flu, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone unless you need medical care.  

For more information, check out the CDC’s Everyday Preventive Actions.