Staying Healthy this Flu and Infectious Disease Season

February 2011
With all the differing information available about H1N1 and seasonal influenza, it’s no wonder the average person is confused about the cause of these viruses and how best to prevent contamination.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 50 percent of U.S. adults are confident they could protect themselves from contracting the virus. Yet, more than one-third say they won’t be washing their hands more frequently this flu season and almost half are not planning to take advantage of available flu shots.
These results are staggering as hand washing and vaccinations are two of the most effective ways to protect one self from infectious diseases like H1N1. Americans aren’t sure where to turn or what to do to protect themselves from the flu.
 It’s time to get back to the basics with proper hand hygiene and surface cleaning as well as seeking out vaccinations to prevent the spread of H1N1, seasonal influenza and other infectious diseases!
It does not take a lot of extra time or effort to stay healthy this flu season and beyond. In fact, it’s as easy as “ABC.”
Always Wash Your Hands.
The best method to prevent the virus’s spread is to wash hands often. Studies show that proper hand washing techniques result in a 21 percent reduction in respiratory illness and a 31 percent reduction in gastrointestinal illness. Yet, more than 80 percent of Americans are not washing their hands properly.
Here’s a step-by-step guide:
Wet hands with clean warm water.
Apply soap.
Rub hands together vigorously and scrub all surfaces for 20 seconds. Remember to wash both thumbs as thumbs are quite often skipped in the hand washing process.
Make sure to wash under nails, watches and jewelry since millions of germs gather there.
Rinse with clean water.
When away from home, a single-use paper towel ensures that hands can be completely dried and virtually germ free.
Since hands are to be washed frequently, use mild and gentle soaps.

Drying hands properly and using paper towels to turn off the faucet and open the door in public restrooms are also key steps to protecting yourself from infection.
Be Sure to get Your Vaccinations.
Medical experts agree that vaccinations can be a crucial step in protecting yourself from the H1N1 and seasonal flu viruses. Most insurance companies will cover part or all of the costs associated with seasonal flu vaccinations. Call your insurance company to inquire about coverage before obtaining these vaccinations.
Cleaning is Key.

While proper hand washing and drying is one of the most important ways to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading the flu virus, it is equally important to keep common objects and surfaces clean. The influenza virus can survive on surfaces for up to eight hours and may spread when a person touches droplets, left by hands, coughs or sneezes, on hard surfaces or objects and then touches his or her mouth or nose.
Clean and disinfect your home with homemade cleaning solutions that are healthier for your family and safer for the environment. For an all-purpose disinfectant, try using one part vinegar to two parts water solution. Another useful disinfectant can be made by mixing two cups of distilled water with one and a half to three teaspoons of liquid castile soap and one teaspoon of tea tree oil. 
To disinfect larger areas in your home, mix one half cup of borax with one gallon of hot water. Adding hydrogen peroxide (3%) solution is also a great way to disinfect.  
Staying healthy doesn’t mean major lifestyle changes during the flu season. Just remember the “ABC’s” of infectious disease prevention to keep you and your family safe and healthy. Following these basic preventative measures will drastically reduce the risk of infection.
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