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Being Proactive During the Flu Season

Two strategies are recommended to contain the spread of a contagious illness according to public health authorities:

  • Isolation for people who are ill
  • Quarantine – for people who have been exposed but are not ill

Isolation refers to the separation of persons who have a specific infectious illness from those who are healthy and the restriction of their movement to stop the spread of that illness.   Isolation allows for the focused delivery of specialized health care to people who are ill, and it protects healthy people from getting sick.  People in isolation may be cared for in their homes, in hospitals, or in designated healthcare facilities. 

Quarantine refers to the separation and restriction of movement of persons who, while not yet ill, have been exposed to an infectious agent and therefore may become infectious.   Interventions range from measures to increase social distance among community members (e.g., cancellation of public gatherings, use of masks, implementation of community-wide “snow days” to community-wide quarantine.

  • The single best way to prevent influenza is to get vaccinated each fall.
  • Doctors can prescribe an antiviral drugs (preferably preventive).
  • SIMPLE STEPS to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses in public places:
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Wash hands often (hourly).  If sick, stay at home and keep at least 3 feet away from others.  Wash hands often with soap and water, especially after  coughing or sneezing. If water is not near, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
    • Cover mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
    • Do not touch eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs often spread this way.

 Individuals who area cared for at home should:

    1. Get plenty of rest
    2. Drink a lot of fluids.
    3. Avoid using alcohol & tobacco.
    4. Consider taking over-the-counter medications to relieve the symptoms of influenza (but never give aspirin to children or teenagers who have influenza-like symptoms).
    5. Stay home and avoid contact with other people.
    6. Cover nose & mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (throw the tissue away after they using it).

Should complications develop, seek medical care immediately by calling the doctor or going to an emergency room.  WARNING SIGNS to seek urgent medical care:

In children:
  1. high or prolonged fever
  2. fast breathing or trouble breathing
  3. bluish skin color
  4. not drinking enough fluids
  5. changes in mental status, somnolence, irritability
  6. seizures
  7. influenza-like symptoms improve but then return with fever & worse cough
  8. worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions (for example, heart or lung disease, diabetes)
In adults:
  1. high or prolonged fever
  2. difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  3. pain or pressure in the chest
  4. near-fainting
  5. confusion
  6. severe or persistent vomiting