You probably heard it many times growing up – cover your cough! It seems like common sense, but many of us need a reminder that mom and dad had good advice when it comes to stopping the spread of germs including seasonal flu and Swine Flu.
Facts about the flu
Influenza, or flu, is a contagious respiratory illness that is caused by influenza viruses. The Centers for Disease Control states that the best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu shot or vaccination each year. This year, many people will chose to get two flu shots – one seasonal flu shot and another targeted specifically at the H1N1 virus that causes the Swine Flu.
Symptoms of the flu include:
• Fever (usually high)
• Extreme tiredness
• Dry Cough
• Sore Throat
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Muscle Aches
• Stomach symptoms including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
How flu spreads
Flu viruses are passed from person to person in droplets of liquid when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets may land directly on another person, or can enter the respiratory tract when a person touches an object like a tissue or shakes hands with someone who just sneezed and then touches her own nose or mouth. It’s also possible to pick up the flu virus by touching an object such as a doorknob or telephone.
Unfortunately, people can share the flu virus a full day before symptoms appear, and up to five days after they become sick. So by the time someone realizes they have the flu, they have already been contagious for a day. This means it is very important to use good hygiene at all times to avoid catching the flu. It’s also important to use good cough etiquette to avoid spreading illnesses … or as many moms would say, cover your cough!
Tips to stop the spread of flu
If you are sick, the CDC recommends these tips to help stop the spread of flu and other germs:
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
• If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not into your hands
• Put your used tissue in the waste basket right away