The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

December 19, 2012

Take care of yourself so you can avoid getting the flu during Christmas time

ENID, Okla. — We wish you a merry Christmas and a (cough, cough) New Year!

As we gather indoors to celebrate the holidays, we’re exposed to more than just the elements.

It doesn’t have to be freezing all the time to get sick. Consistently chilly temperatures have less to do with contracting the flu than you might think.

The southern state of Mississippi, with a balmy average temperature of 53 degrees, was leading the United States in the most cases with flu-like symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Allison Aiello, a professor and epidemiologist at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, told Yahoo! News that school-aged youngsters in closed quarters are largely to blame for spreading germs.

Even Hillary Clinton was not immune as she fainted from dehydration due to a stomach virus and reportedly suffered a concussion.

The flu is rearing its ugly head in our community.

According to INTEGRIS Bass Baptist Health Center, its emergency department has treated three to four patients testing positive for type A influenza, but no one has been hospitalized for the flu. Urgent Care Plus has seen nine positive flu cases.

St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center reports 19 flu cases thus far this season.

Those numbers are concerning, especially when you consider uncounted patients diagnosed by private physicians.

How can you keep from getting sick? The CDC offers several tips to fight the flu:

Obviously, the first step is getting the seasonal flu vaccine.

Young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older are most susceptible.

Remember the manners your mother taught you. Cover your mouth when you cough.

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water and use hand sanitizer. Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth.

If you get the flu, take antiviral drugs prescribed by a physician.

The CDC suggests you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, unless you have to get medical care.