Spread the news,
not the flu
The single best way to protect against seasonal flu and its potential
severe complications is for children to get a seasonal flu vaccine each
year. But it may help to understand how the flu spreads (and how it doesn't).
Illnesses like the flu and colds are caused by viruses that infect the
nose, throat, and lungs. People with flu can spread it to others up to
about six feet away. Flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when
people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the
mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the
lungs. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or
object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.
To avoid this, people should wash their hands often with soap and water.
If soap and water are not available, they should use an alcohol-based
hand rub to clean their hands. Linens, eating utensils, and dishes belonging
to those who are sick should not be shared without washing thoroughly
first. Eating utensils can be washed either in a dishwasher or by hand
with water and soap and do not need to be cleaned separately.
Flu viruses are relatively fragile, so standard cleaning and disinfecting
practices are sufficient to remove or kill them. Special cleaning and
disinfecting processes, including wiping down walls and ceilings, frequently
using room air deodorizers, and fumigating, are not necessary or recommended.
These processes can irritate eyes, noses, throats, and skin; aggravate
asthma; and cause other serious side effects.
Follow your school's standard procedures for routine cleaning and disinfecting.
Most studies have shown that the flu virus can live and potentially infect
a person for only two to eight hours after being deposited on a surface.
Therefore, it is not necessary to close schools to clean or disinfect
every surface in the building to slow the spread of flu. Also, if students
and staff are dismissed because the school cannot function normally, such
as a high absentee rate during a flu outbreak, it is not necessary to
do extra cleaning and disinfecting.
Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before
symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. Children
may pass the virus for longer than seven days. Symptoms start one to four
days after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able
to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well
as while you are sick . Some persons can be infected with the flu virus
but have no symptoms. During this time, those persons may still spread
the virus to others.
More information on how to protect yourself and your family from the flu,
including a flu shot locator map, is available from the Health Department's
Web site www.kanehealth.com/flu.htm