Flu infection, computer artwork. Influenza virus particles entering the lungs.

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Flu infection, computer artwork. Influenza virus particles entering the lungs.

Photo by: ROGER HARRIS

ROGER HARRIS

The Flu: How It Spreads, and How You Can Stop It

By: Leah Weber

Every year like clockwork, we are confronted with the dreaded flu season. Scientists work tirelessly to understand Influenza and how we can prevent the spread.

January 31, 2020

Flu Season is upon us. Influenza activity is high across the country and is expected to stay that way for weeks. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) keeps detailed records about the spread of the virus on their page dedicated to the seasonal flu. It seems that this epidemic gets worse every year and the question always is, what can we do to keep ourselves safe from this virus?

Step one of prevention is understanding what we’re fighting against. In 2018, a study was published about the flu virus and how long it was able to survive once is it spread outside of the human body through touching, coughing, and sneezing. It was found that it truly depends on the environment and the mode of transmission, but that there is opportunity for the virus to survive outside of minutes, and even past an hour once it leaves the body.

Flu virus particles, computer artwork.

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Flu virus particles, computer artwork.

Photo by: ROGER HARRIS

ROGER HARRIS

Our best bet in combatting the flu this year is an individual effort to prevent the spread of this virus that can be potentially fatal to high-risk groups. Take a look at the list below and see how you can prevent the spread of the flu.

  • Get Vaccinated!

    • Everyone past the age of 6 months old should get the flu shot. Make sure to confirm with your healthcare provider which version of the flu vaccine is right for you and if you’re eligible.
  • Stay Home!

    • If you are sick, stay home! You can prevent the spread of the virus to people who could be fatally harmed by the virus. Get advice from your doctor about when you are no longer contagious.
  • Wash Your Hands!

    • Sing the “Happy Birthday” song to yourself or count to 20 slowly while you are washing your hands with soap and running water. If you can’t get your hands on soap, hand sanitizer can be an acceptable substitute, but make sure it is alcohol based.
  • Cover Your Mouth!

    • If you feel a cough or a sneeze or cough coming on, protect those around you by aiming into your shirt or a tissue. Avoid using your hands as a shield, especially if you are not able to wash them immediately without touching other surfaces.

You can always use the CDC as a resource if you feel you need more information about flu treatment and prevention. Always remember to check with a medical professional before following any instructions or protocols suggested.

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