This time of year, it seems like there are so many people that we know who are sick.  They may be sneezing, coughing, and blowing their nose.  Guess where all those germs end up most of the time?  In their hands.  Germy hands are the biggest reason that so many people become ill.  It is for this reason that health care providers remind you how important it is to have good handwashing.  Also, everyone should try to sneeze or cough into a tissue or into the upper sleeve of their arm instead of their hands.  This helps to keep germs away from hands that touch often used objects.

Still, the best way to stop the spread of germs is to wash your hands, but it must be done the right way.  Below are the steps to best wash away germs that might be on your hands.

  • Wet hands with warm water and put soap on hands.
  • Rub hands together firmly for at least 20 seconds, covering all parts of the hands and spending more time with finger nails and parts where jewelry is worn.
  • Rinse hands with water.
  • Dry well with a paper towel.
  • Use towel to turn off faucet.

If soap and water are not nearby, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol.  Alcohol based hand sanitizers can quickly lower the number of germs on hands most of the time, but sanitizers do not remove all types of germs. It might not get rid of harmful chemicals or visible dirt.

Remember, you can help stop the spread of sickness.  It is spread from person to person. Stay home when you are ill and stay away from others who are sick when possible. Wash hands often with soap and water.  When you do not have soap and water nearby, use an alcohol-based hand rub.  Clean often touched surfaces at home, work or school.  If you think that you or a family member may be sick, stay home. Contact your health care provider, if needed.

Influenza is a serious disease that can cause sickness, hospital stays, and even death.  Symptoms of flu may be fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, extreme tiredness, and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting.   People with the virus are likely able to spread it from the day before symptoms first show until about five days after symptoms start.  Sometimes people can spread the disease for as long as 10 days after symptoms show.

To prevent the chances of getting the flu, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests getting the flu shot every year.  It is best to get the flu shot before the illness even starts making people sick in the area because it takes a full two weeks for the vaccine to start working. Our bodies need to have time to process the vaccine and prepare for fighting the virus. However, it’s never too late to get a flu shot.

Flu viruses are always changing, which is the reason health care providers encourage getting the flu shot every year.  Most of the time a new flu season brings a different strain, or kind of virus.  If you’ve had the flu in the past, your body has already made antibodies to fight that certain strain of the virus. If future flu viruses are like those you’ve had before, either by having the disease or getting a flu shot, those antibodies may protect you from getting sick, or even lessen your symptoms if you do get sick.

For more information on this topic, go to https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/index.html or https://www.cdc.gov/flu/

For questions or to learn more, call Four Corners at 402-362-2621 or 877-337-3573 or email us at info@fourcorners.ne.gov