Mayo Clinic Health System urging public to prevent spread of flu
FAIRMONT, NEW PRAGUE, ST. JAMES AND WASECA, Minn. — Influenza typically peaks in January and February, and every year it's associated with illness ranging from mild to severe.
Contrary to common belief, influenza is not the same as what many people refer to as the stomach flu, which is a common term for an intestinal infection that causes diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea and vomiting.
"Flu, short for influenza, is a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system," says Robert Taylor, D.O., Mayo Clinic Health System in New Prague Family Medicine. "Symptoms initially overlap with a common cold, including a runny nose or congestion, sneezing, and sore throat. But they typically become more severe."
Symptoms can progress to include:
- Fever or feeling feverish (Everyone will not experience fever with influenza.)
- Body aches and muscle stiffness
- Chills and sweats
- Fatigue and weakness
- Nasal congestion
Dr. Taylor says the good news is that there are a number of steps that you can take to decrease your chance of getting the flu, and now is the time to take action.
- Get an annual vaccination. The flu vaccine is available as an injection or nasal spray. While the vaccine isn't 100% effective, it is by far your best defense from getting the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older receive the flu vaccine every season.
- Wash your hands. Practicing good hand hygiene not only can keep you from catching the flu, but also it prevents other common infections. Scrub your hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer also can be effective.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes. Whenever you cough or sneeze, you should cover your nose and mouth with a tissue, or pull your arm up and cough or sneeze into your sleeve at the elbow. Try not to cough or sneeze into your hands.
- Avoid crowds during peak flu season. The influenza virus spreads easily wherever people congregate — in child care centers, schools, office buildings, auditoriums and public transportation. While you don't have to be reclusive, avoiding crowds during peak flu season can lower your chances of catching influenza. You also should stay home from work and school when ill to prevent further spread of the virus.
Mayo Clinic Health System consists of clinics, hospitals and other health care facilities that serve the health care needs of people in 70 communities in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The community-based providers, paired with the resources and expertise of Mayo Clinic, enable patients in the region to receive the highest-quality health care close to home.
Press ContactAmanda Dyslin