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Flu Advisory


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Flu Advisory

  1. 1. DPH/OSH Fact Sheet Employees Flu Season AdvisoryIf you have been watching the TV news or reading the papers, you have noted that many are concerned about this year’s fluseason. Although the government and the private sector are taking steps to produce an adequate and effective seasonal fluvaccine for 2009, I think it is useful to provide facts about the seasonal flu and ways that you can avoid getting it.Basic Facts: Typically flu season lasts from September to March of every year. Influenza (“flu”) is a contagious respiratoryillness caused by the influenza virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 10 to 20% of Americansget the flu every year.Symptoms: Fever (usually high), headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and muscleaches. Gastro-intestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, are much more common among children thanadults.Spread of Flu: Viruses are spread when a person who has the flu coughs, sneezes, or speaks and spreads virus into theair, and other people inhale the virus. The viruses can also be spread when a person touches a surface with flu viruses on it(for example, a door handle) and then touches his or her nose or mouth. Adults may be contagious from 1 day beforedeveloping symptoms to up to 7 days after getting sick. Children can be contagious for longer than 7 days.Prevention Strategies:Avoid close contact: When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.Stay Home When You Are Sick: Stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help preventothers from catching your illness.Cover Your Mouth and Nose: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent thosearound you from getting sick.Frequent Handwashing: Washing your hands often will help to prevent transmission of the flu virus. Wiping down countersand door knobs can also help to prevent the spread of the flu virus.Avoid Touching Your Eyes, Nose or Mouth: Flu virus can be spread when a person touches something that iscontaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.Vaccination: The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each fall. This year the hope is that shortages of fluvaccine will be avoided. If shortages do occur vaccine will still be available for high priority risk groups.The CDC recognizes the following high risk groups for priority in receiving the flu vaccine:• Healthy Children aged 6 to 35 months• Adults aged 65 years or older• Pregnant women in their 2nd or 3rd trimester during flu season (September thru March).• Persons aged 2 years or older with underlying chronic conditions, such as Heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, immune compromising diseases or treatment.Antiviral Medications: Three antiviral drugs (amantadine, rimantadine, and oseltamivir) are approved and commerciallyavailable for use in preventing flu. All of these medications are prescription drugs, and a doctor should be consulted beforethe drugs are used for preventing the flu.Check out the Infect Me Not Campaign at This is a very useful and amusingwebsite and adds much needed humor to a serious subject.If you have any questions about this fact sheet, call Shawn Holle, OSH Safety Analyst, at (415) 554-2736. Department of Public Health Occupational Safety & Health Section