Local docs share 5 ways to avoid flu

Widespread flu is reported in New York and New Jersey right now plus influenza like illnesses are at high levels in nearly 20 states. Health officials say that means you can expect more people to get sick in the next few weeks.

Physicians with American Family Care (AFC), a national urgent care franchise with a clinic in your area, are seeing positive flu tests, as well as patients suffering from either a cold or a winter mystery virus (adenovirus) that looks a lot the flu.

AFC docs are explaining to families that each is a respiratory virus but the flu stands out in several ways, like symptoms come on abruptly and it can turn fatal.

Is it flu, a cold or an adenovirus?

“The flu is serious business, so you cannot ignore the symptoms. Last season the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 80,000 deaths, which was the deadliest season in 40 years,” says Dr. Benjamin Barlow, American Family Care chief medical officer. “We are still early on in this flu season, as it usually doesn’t peak until March. Of course, the best way to protect yourself is to get vaccinated.”

In addition to getting a flu shot, AFC physicians advise taking a few every day preventive measures to boost your chances of avoiding the flu.

5 Habits That Help You Prevent the Flu:

1. Avoid sharing pens. Whether at work or signing a credit card receipt at a store, never pick up a public pen because they’re covered with other people’s germs. Keep a pen handy for any situation that could pop up.

2. Knuckle it. When using a debit card machine, get into the habit of punching in your card pin with a knuckle instead of a fingertip. This way if you rub your eye or mouth with your fingertip, you’re not transferring germs.

3. Play it safe at the pump. Drivers must get gas for their vehicles no matter what, sick or not. Protect yourself at the pump, grab a paper towel before picking up the gas nozzle. You can also use the paper towel as a barrier when punching in your debit/credit card info.

4. Shake and Wash. People are more germ-conscious these days so avoiding a handshake is not as rude as once thought, especially during flu season. If you must do it, wash or sanitize with your hands immediately.

5. Hands off, please! You are constantly using either your phone or computer tablet to show friends and coworkers pictures or videos. This means other people are putting their germs on something you are constantly touching. Get into the habit of wiping your phone down with a disinfecting wipe to cut down on spreading germs. OR just text your friends photos and videos!


• Children under the age of 6, pregnant women and adults 65 or older are at high risk for serious flu complications like inflammation of the heart, brain or muscle tissues or multi-organ failure.

• Most experts think flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when someone with flu coughs, sneezes or talks. They can infect you from six feet away.

• People can carry the virus and risk exposing others when they show little symptoms.

• Frequently touched surfaces at work or school should be cleaned and disinfected especially if someone is ill.

• Flu activity monitored by CDC, check link for cases in your area: www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm#ILIMap

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