Pandeminc_flu_germsOver the past two weeks, Madison County Health Department has seen a significant increase in the number of reports of influenza (flu) and gastrointestinal illness (stomach bug). Keeping this in mind, there are important things you and your family can do to stay healthy in the midst of germ season.

“Stay home when you are sick to help stop the spread of germs,” said Cheryl Geiler, Director of Community Health. “Staying home protects those in your home and others around you from becoming ill and continuing the cycle.”

If you have a fever, stay home from work or school until 24 hours after your fever ends. Typically while you have a fever you are more infectious, this means you can more easily spread germs to others. Stay in one room of your home to avoid spreading germs to other areas of your home. Wash your hands often. Handwashing is one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of germs.

Handwashing is important for everyone, and especially for young children. Children rely on their parents to help them avoid contact with germs and assist them with handwashing. The type of soap you use is not as important as how you wash and scrub. Perfecting good handwashing helps to decrease the number of germs on your hands that could make you sick.

Always wash with soap and water. Rub your hands together rapidly for a good 20 seconds. Wash your hands often throughout the day: before eating, after playing outside, and especially after touching animals (including pets).

When out and about, carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer is convenient to use when soap and water is not readily available, especially after touching shopping carts or escalator handrails.

Other ways to prevent the spread of illness is to not share cups or utensils with others, don’t prepare food for others while you are sick, clean and disinfect surfaces often, and wash contaminated laundry immediately.

The influenza virus, commonly called the “flu”, is a respiratory illness that usually causes symptoms of a fever, cough and/or sore throat. If you think you may have flu-like symptoms, visit your doctor right away. An antiviral medication may be prescribed to lessen your symptoms and how long you are sick.

Common symptoms of gastrointestinal illness, called the “stomach bug,” are: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and sometimes a fever.

If you become ill contact your healthcare provider, explain your symptoms and when you started feeling sick, especially if your symptoms begin to worsen.

Between work, school, daycare and other places, you can bring home a lot of germs; however, you can minimize the germs in your home by practicing good family handwashing, cleaning high traffic areas like bathrooms, and by staying home when you are sick.

For more information on how you can prevent the flu and gastrointestinal illness, visit

By martha

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