Seasonal flu: take it seriously

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In recent months most of the focus has been on the H1N1 virus, but what about the seasonal flu.

The seasonal flu is separate from H1N1 – but should still be taken seriously. Each year in the United States on average 20-percent of the population contracts the flu; 200,000 people then become hospitalized; and 30,000 to 40,000 people die from flu related causes (www.cdc.gov).

So what can be done to protect against the seasonal flu? Again like with H1N1, good hygiene is our best defense. Washing hands and practicing good cough etiquette are some of the simplest preventive measures and most effective for many types of illness.

Another way to protect against the seasonal flu is by getting vaccinated. The annual flu vaccination that will be available in a few weeks will help your body defend against the seasonal flu. However, the seasonal flu vaccine may not protect you from the H1N1 virus.

The H1N1 vaccine is a separate vaccination that will be available in mid October.

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The County’s preparation:

Switzerland county officials have been very proactive in preparing for this year’s flu season. The local school corporation, health department, and political leaders, have all been working closely on planning and preparation.

Switzerland County Schools are taking several steps to slow and limit the spread of a flu-like viruses. Some of these steps will include placing antiviral hand sanitizers in classrooms and hallways. Commonly touched surfaces such as desks, keyboards, railing, and door handles will be wiped down and decontaminated more frequently.

The courthouse and other public buildings will be doing the same, having sanitizers readily available at public entrances and working to clean common surfaces more frequently.

The Swiss Wine Festival Board is going to have hand-washing stations and hand sanitizers scattered throughout the festival grounds that will be easy to access for all.

And starting the first part of September the Purdue Extension Office and local health department will be going to local daycares and classrooms to provide education on hand washing and cough etiquette.

“With all the unknowns preparation and planning are our two biggest allies” Chris See said.

Questions about the seasonal flu and H1N1 can be channeled to Chris See at the local health department at 427-9015, or by email: see.christopher@yahoo.com. Also the local health department will have a booth at the Swiss Wine Festival to provide information and answer questions on Saturday after the parade.