February is filled with flowers and chocolate, but it is also when flu season peaks.
Flu is a contagious, preventable respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It spreads from person-to-person and can cause mild to severe illness, and in some cases, death.
Since children spend most of their time indoors at school and in close contact with other children, they are at an increased risk of catching the virus.
As a mother, half of my conversations with the “spirited one” (my three-year-old son) revolve around hygiene. “Wash your hands.” “Take your fingers out of your mouth.” “Cough or sneeze into your elbow.” “Don’t touch your sister.” But, a millionth of a meter-sized flu particle is stronger and smarter than my son and me. The flu has been known to infect humans for thousands of years, and we’re not even close to eradicating this virus.
That said, we can avoid catching it.
While many of us have healthy immune systems and can fight the flu virus without "getting sick," we all can become carriers of the flu. When you’re a carrier, you can transmit the infection (even when you’re not "sick") to at-risk populations, including infants, children, individuals with chronic diseases and older adults.
Vaccination is the single best way to prevent becoming a carrier or contracting the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends universal vaccinations for everyone six months and older (unless contraindicated), and I encourage you to consider the benefits of vaccination for the seasonal flu.
Remember an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of gold:
- Get yourself and your children vaccinated.
- Wash your hands regularly.
- Teach your children to sneeze and cough into their elbow.
- Teach your children not to touch their eyes, face or nose. Fun (disturbing?) fact: Humans touch their faces more than monkeys.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- Keep your children home from school when they are sick.
- If you or your children are sick, limit your contact with others.
For more information on staying healthy this flu season or Beach Cities Health District, visit www.bchd.org.