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Influenza is a serious illness and is easily spread from person to person, caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory system.
The flu vaccine is the best way to prevent the flu, but the next best thing is cleaning our hands, also known as hand hygiene. (1)
Back to school season and cooler weather brings many people back indoors and with more communal activity, there is an increase in the spread of common viruses and infections. The main way germs are spread is through our hands. Our hands may look clean, but without even realizing it we can pick up germs almost everywhere including telephones, desks, doorknobs, menus, shopping carts, books, stair railings and toys, just to name a few. Germs can live on any surface for two hours or more. When we forget to clean our hands or don't clean them properly, we can spread germs to other people. We can also spread them to ourselves by touching our eyes, mouth, nose or cuts on our bodies.
What you can do to keep the flu virus at bay?:
1. Clean your hands before preparing and eating food, before touching your eyes, nose or mouth and after using the bathroom, blowing your nose, or coughing or sneezing on your hands.
You can use an alcohol based hand rub when your hands don't look or feel dirty but should be cleaned. Make sure hands are dry. Put enough sanitizer on to cover your palm and rub it all over your hands including wrists, palms, back of your hands and between your fingers.
Wash your hands with soap and warm water when your hands look or feel dirty. Rub hands with soap to make lather for at least 20 seconds singing the Happy Birthday song. Pay special attention to your wrists, back of hands, between fingers and under nails. Rinse well under running water and use a clean towel to dry your hands, or air dry your hands.
2. Get immunized this season to protect yourself and those around you, especially those who are most vulnerable – the children and the elderly. Pregnant women, seniors, children and individuals with underlying health conditions or compromised immune systems are at greater risk for severe complications, without immunization, even healthy Albertans are at risk of severe illness and even death. Each year, the influenza vaccine is developed to protect us against the strains of virus likely to circulate in our community. Without immunization, your body will not have the opportunity to build its immunity or armor against influenza before being exposed. Influenza immunization will be made available, starting in October, free of charge to all Albertans six months of age and older. (2)
Stay healthy and protect yourself and your loved ones by washing away the germs and getting immunized.
Article Submitted by Pam Cloutier, Registered Nurse at HealthWORX Clinic
Website Title: WebMD
Article Title: "Prevent Flu: Wash Your Hands to Kill the Flu Virus"
Author: Jeanie Lerche Davis
Website: Alberta Health Services
Article title: "It's not too late to get immunized"
Proposed publication date: January 7, 2019
Content provided by: Alberta Health Services – Public Health