Flu Prevention – Social Measures: Prevent Flu Spreading Through Personal Contact

flu prevent flu spreading

prevent flu spreading; Influenza or “the flu” is a disease of the lungs and airways that is caused by a virus. The disease passes from person to person by airborne droplets given off when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.

The virus in the droplets can: prevent flu spreading

  • travel one to two metres (three to six feet) through the air
  • live on hard surfaces for up to two days
  • Also live on porous surfaces such as cloth, tissues, and paper for eight to 12 hours
  • live on hands for up to five minutes

The virus is transferred by being inhaled or ingested, or when uninfected persons transfers the virus by touching their eyes, nose, or mouth.

Social Measures to Prevent Flu Spreading

Although some celebrities like Howie Mandel and others are widely known to avoid personal contact, refusing even to shake hands, it’s probably not necessary to go quite that far to prevent flu during the flu season. Over and above the social etiquette of covering sneezes and coughs with disposable tissues or sneezing/coughing onto the shoulder or upper arm, there are some social measures to take.

Alberta Health & Wellness (It’s in Your Hands, publication CD0092) gives this advice:

  1. Stay away from crowds – “Avoid crowds during influenza season.” Many people with active social lives may find this restrictive to the point of absurdity. Flu season in North America typically lasts from November to March. No dances, no shopping in crowded malls, no social clubs, no curling bonspiels.
  2. Don’t visit sick relatives and friends – “Visit those who have influenza only if necessary, and stand more than 1 m (3 ft) away from them.” Again, advice that may be medically sound but which is socially challenging.

Social Hygiene Measures for Preventing Flu Transmission

Further steps to prevent flu spreading involve handling of items shared by people, such as the following:

  • Do not share personal items, food, or drinks.
  • Keep personal items separate if a household member has flu.
  • Clean surfaces around a flu sufferer often with a detergent or antibacterial cleanser.
  • Wash the hands after personal contact and especially before eating.
  • Stay home if ill (a person is contagious from the day before symptoms start until about five days after initial symptoms).
  • Put out alcohol gel in the workplace or at social gatherings.

Other ideas for dealing with social or public areas include:

  • Use paper towel or disposable tissue to turn off the taps and to turn the doorknob in public restrooms to avoid recontamination after washing the hands.
  • Use alcohol wipes or cleanser to wipe down frequently-touched surfaces such as grocery cart handles.

Preventing flu becomes a matter of handling social contact and proper hygiene for surfaces which contagious people may have touched, by frequent hand-washing, and by controlling the habit of touching the eyes, mouth, or nose.

flu prevent flu spreading

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