February 5, 2020

Suffering from the flu? Just stay home

flu-image It’s now more important than ever to get a flu shot – especially as the world grapples with the unknowns of the coronavirus says a Purdue University nursing faculty member. (Illustration by Dan Page). Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — At least 10,000 Americans have died since October from the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest influenza update released Friday (Jan. 31).

One Purdue University public health expert says that number should alarm people, and it’s now more important than ever to get a flu shot – especially as the world grapples with the unknowns of the coronavirus.

“While coronavirus is stealing the media spotlight, it’s important to keep in mind that the flu is still a powerful respiratory virus infecting and killing Americans,” says Libby Richards, an associate professor of nursing in Purdue’s School of Nursing.

The CDC reported that flu activity has increased over the past two weeks. At least 19 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with influenza this season. The number of children who died from the flu this season now stands at 68 nationally.

There are simple tips to protect oneself at work, school or around the community, Richards says.

“If everyone around you is getting sick, work hard to keep your hands clean; don’t share items without wiping them down, and focus on self-care,” she says.

Disinfecting wipes can be one of a person’s best defenses during this part of flu season.

“The frequency of wiping items and surfaces depends on the amount of use and the level of circulating illness. You should consider at least once or maybe twice a day for heavily used items,” Richards says. “Other practices around the workplace, school or home could include placement of hand sanitizer in more locations.”

But the bottom line from Richards is that those who have flu or flu-like symptoms should just stay home and rest.

“Rest will help you recover more quickly,” she says.

For those recovering from an illness who don’t want to infect others during meetings, Richards suggests checking with their workplace on teleconferencing or web conferencing options.

“It can be more helpful to everyone to call into a meeting instead of sitting in a room and sharing their germs.”

Richards says a person can return to work after they are fever-free for 24 hours without the need of prescription or over-the-counter medications.

“Typically, healthy adults will recover without medical intervention,” she says. “If you have a history of chronic disease or your symptoms deteriorate rapidly, call your health care provider.”

Writer: Matthew Oates, 765-496-2571, oatesw@purdue.edu, @mo_oates

Source: Libby Richards, 765-494-1392, erichards@purdue.edu, @LibbyAnnR1

Related releases:

Do I have the flu or not?

Keeping your immune system healthy is a way to keep the flu bug away

The flu and you: It’s complicated 

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