There’s a martyr in every office. You know, the person who dutifully reports for work day in and day out, regardless of the amount of hacking, sneezing and wheezing they’re suffering.
No one likes a martyr. At least not the Sick Day Martyr. The New York State Department of Health has categorized the current influenza activity level as “widespread.” That means there’s more than just a “bug going around.” It’s a serious threat to public health; laboratory-confirmed influenza has been reported in all 57 counties – currently in Chenango County there are 220 confirmed cases (not counting, of course, the probable multitudes of patients who are suffering and haven’t seen a doctor). Last flu season, there were 30.
Now’s not the time to tough it out at the office, or to send little Johnny to school if he’s sick. Stay home, and keep your germs, as much as possible, to yourself.
Seasonal flu is not just a really bad cold. The flu is a contagious illness that affects the nose, throat, lungs and other parts of the body. It can spread quickly from one person to another, causing mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing by people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something – such as a surface or object – with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
If you do get the flu, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests some simple, smart steps to make sure you take care of yourself – and to avoid infecting others.
• Stay home. If you’re not feeling well, you don’t want other people feeling badly too.
• If you must go out, wear a mask, and try to avoid touching people. Flu spreads through microscopic fluid exchanges, like from sneezes, coughs or shaking hands.
• You’re contagious for a day before you show symptoms and up to seven days afterward, regardless of how you feel.
• Get plenty of fluids and rest. Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and wash your hands often.
Because of the widespread illness, the Chenango County Health Department has waived its usual fee for the flu vaccine, in hopes that residents who have not had their shot will get one now. The vaccine is available to anyone 6 months and older. Persons interested in receiving a flu shot should call their health care provider or call the Health Department at 337-1660.