Flu season has officially arrived in Michigan as fast and furious as the cold and snow. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting widespread flu activity for all of Michigan and much of the United States. Widespread means that more than 50% of a geographic region, such as counties, of a state are reporting flu activity.
Despite the rampant number of flu cases, there are four simple steps to take to protect yourself, your family, and those around you from getting the flu.
- Get a Flu Vaccine (shot). It’s not too late to get the benefits of the flu shot. While influenza is a year-round illness, the “flu season” can start as early as October and last as late as May. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce your risk of getting sick with seasonal flu and spreading it to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community. Flu shots are still available at all Michigan Urgent Care clinics. Learn more and find a clinic near you.
- Wash Your Hands. The simple act of washing hands with soap and water can’t be stressed enough. The influenza virus can survive on hard surfaces for 24 hours. On hands, the virus can survive about 15 minutes. But that’s enough time to introduce the flu virus into your body. It’s important to wash hands with soap and water or, if not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after being in a public place, using the bathroom, or coughing or sneezing into your hand.
- Cover your Cough and Sneeze, Please. According to research from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, droplets from coughs and sneezes can travel up to 8 meters (26 feet) and stay suspended in the air for several minutes. Flu is spread person-to-person by droplets or touching contaminated surfaces. Contain your germs by coughing and sneezing into your elbow, and then wash your hands.
- Sanitize Surfaces. Flu viruses can live on hard surfaces for up to 24 hours. Routine cleaning of shared surfaces like doorknobs, TV remotes, game controllers, and other electronic devices can slow the spread of the virus. Common household cleaning products containing alcohol or chlorine (bleach) are effective. For electronic devices, follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions or use wipes indicated for use on electronic devices.
Think you might have the flu? Influenza typically comes on quickly – many patients describe the flu as “like being hit like a truck”. Flu symptoms also include body aches and pain, fever and chills, and a dry cough. If you suspect you have the flu, see your doctor or stop into one of our urgent care clinics. Flu antivirals, Tamiflu is the name-brand medication, can be given within 48 hours of symptoms, and can lesson the duration and severity of the flu. Learn more and find a clinic near you.