• ‘Tis the Season for the Flu

    Pick up gifts, not germs on Black Friday

    This week marks the beginning of the holiday season. As we gather with family and friends and begin our holiday shopping, keep in mind it is also the beginning of flu season.

    According to Rome Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Department Director, Loretta Myers, RN, the hospital treated 40 people with flu-like symptoms this past weekend. “We saw an upward trend in patients presenting with influenza like illness during the weekend,” Myers said. “Of those, we have five confirmed cases of the flu.”

    How can you protect yourself and your family from the flu?

    “Washing or sanitizing your hands often while shopping is a good way to protect yourself,” said Rome Memorial Hospital’s Infection Prevention Director LeAnna Grace. “Also, try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth as much as possible especially if you haven’t had a chance to clean your hands.”

    “Most importantly, get your flu shot,” Grace urged. “It won’t protect you for Black Friday, but there is still a lot of holiday shopping to do in December and the stores will be crowded with shoppers and germs!”

    “Since it takes up to two weeks to develop immunity after receiving the flu vaccine, it is important to be vaccinated as soon as you can,” Grace continued. “The flu season usually begins in December and peaks in January and February in our area. Immunity to the flu from the vaccination lasts about one year.”

    Drawing from recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Grace offered these additional tips to help people prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like flu:
    • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
    • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
    • If you are sick with flu–like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
    • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.

    Signs and symptoms of the flu include: fever/chills, sore throat, cough, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, runny or stuffy nose. The degree of illness from the flu can be very mild to severe. Someone might think they have a cold and they actually have the flu. For most people symptoms only last a few days.

    More information about seasonal influenza can be found at www.cdc.gov.