The University of Kentucky Public Relations & Strategic Communications Office provides a weekly health column available for use and reprint by news media. This week's column is by Dr. Derek Forster, medical director for Infection Prevention and Control at UK HealthCare.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 24, 2020) — Although this time of year is usually considered to be the later part of the flu season, this year flu activity and flu-like illnesses continue to be widespread – both throughout the state and nationally.
However, it is not too late to get a flu vaccination and to take other important steps to prevent illness.
The flu shot is always the best way to prevent getting the flu and is still available at most retail pharmacies, local health departments and your family physician's office.
In addition to getting vaccinated, also take these important steps to reduce your chances of getting sick.
Keep your distance from others who are sick.
- Avoid close contact with others who display symptoms; people with the flu can spread it to others at least three feet away.
- Avoid sharing eating utensils and dishes with people who are sick.
Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Throw away the used tissue, and then wash your hands.
Wash your hands with soap and warm water.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and often, and use soap and warm water.
- If soap and warm water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Clean frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Clean keyboards, TV remotes, phones, desks and doorknobs often and thoroughly, as studies have shown that the flu virus can survive on surfaces for up to 48 hours.
- Soap and water are all you need to remove the flu virus. However, you can also use a bleach-and-water solution or disinfectant with a label that says “EPA approved” for killing viruses and bacteria. Always follow directions on product labels.
If you do get sick, take the following measures to help with symptoms and to reduce the spread of illness.
- Stay home from work or school and away from others as much as possible until your fever is gone for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Drink clear fluids, such as water, sports drinks or electrolyte beverages.
- Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help reduce fever, headache and body aches.
- If you have a medical condition or are at high risk for flu complications, be sure to talk to your health care provider.
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.