Flu season is here

Posted: Thursday, September 17, 2009

The following editorial first appeared in the Ketchikan Daily News:

It's wet out there, and getting chillier and darker every day.

As if we needed a reminder, Thursday's 5.1 inches of rain underscores what has become increasingly obvious in the past few weeks: Fall has arrived.

With fall comes the flu season, and this year, on top of the plain, old-fashioned flu, we've got a pandemic flu out to get us - one that's easier to catch, but not as severe as seasonal flu.

It can be difficult to avoid getting sick, but it's worth making an effort to contain an outbreak as much as possible, or at least slow it down.

If we have flu symptoms - coughing, fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, vomiting or diarrhea - we should go to the doctor for treatment. If we are sick, we should stay home. Even if we don't have the flu - swine, seasonal or gastrointestinal - why share germs?

Unfortunately, symptoms often show up days after exposure to a virus or germ, so we don't always know that we're sick (and contagious) until after we've left the bug around for others to pick up.

To help prevent the spread of diseases, we should wash our hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water aren't available; use a tissue to cover our mouths when coughing or sneezing, and immediately throw the tissue away; cough or sneeze into a sleeve or elbow if a tissue isn't available; wash our hands or use a hand sanitizer after coughing or sneezing; and use sanitary wipes to clean surfaces where germs gather, such as computer keyboards, telephones, light switches and stairway banisters.

Let's all try to keep the community healthy this fall and winter.

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