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How can I help prevent the spread of the flu?

Here are some tips to help prevent the spread of flu:

Get a flu shot. Flu immunizations protect people from getting (and spreading) the flu.

Wash your hands often, at least before and after every meal.

If you have flu symptoms, take these precautions:

  • Avoid public places for at least 5 to 7 days from the time your symptoms began or at least 24 hours after your fever goes away (without fever-reducing medication), whichever is longer.
  • If you need to visit a clinic or hospital, wear a surgical face mask (or ask for one when you arrive). A face mask can help protect you and other patients.
  • Cover your mouth with your elbow when you cough or sneeze. Cough into your elbow rather than your hands.

Below is a list of general precautions of preventing seasonal flu and other communicable diseases:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread that way. Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you get sick, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

There are a few ways to prevent the spread of the flu:

  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • If you are sick with flu symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs such as the flu.
Here are several simple commonsense things you can do to protect yourself from the flu and to help prevent the spread of the flu virus:
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough and teach your children to do the same. Use tissues, not handkerchiefs, and dispose of the tissue after one use. Also, try not to touch your mouth, nose or eyes to avoid spreading germs.
  • Keep your distance (at least three feet), if possible, from people who have the flu, because the virus is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
  • Wash your hands frequently to reduce your risk of catching a cold or flu. Ordinary soap is sufficient. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner. Antibacterial soaps add little protection, particularly against viruses. In fact, a study suggests that although hand washing with soap reduced the number of pneumonia-related infections in children under five by 50%, there was no difference in the results when antibacterial soap was used instead of regular soap.
  • Avoid secondhand cigarette smoke and, if you smoke, try to quit.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle to build your immunity by following a nutritious diet, getting enough sleep, drinking lots of water and minimizing stress. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables, which are rich in antioxidants and other important plant-based chemicals, may help strengthen your immune system.
  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone (without the aid of fever-reducing medication) except to get medical care or for other necessities.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.