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Shots and hand-washing can prevent spread of flu

Media contact:

Linda Geist
Writer
University of Missouri Extension
Phone: 573-882-9185
Email: GeistLi@missouri.edu

Published: Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013

Story source:

Janet Hackert, 660-425-6434

BETHANY, Mo. – The flu shot is still the best defense against starting winter with coughs, sore throats, aches and fatigue, says a University of Missouri Extension health education specialist.

There is a new flu vaccine that is quadrivalent, meaning it protects against four strains of flu, says Janet Hackert. This is one more than the traditional trivalent flu vaccine. The new vaccine guards against two forms of influenza A and two forms of influenza B.

Seek information from your health care provider, Hackert said, and don’t delay in getting a traditional vaccine if the new variety is not available in your area.

You can find out if particular vaccines are available near you at vaccine.healthmap.org.

Flu can spread from one person to another person as far as 6 feet away. Water droplets expelled in coughs, sneezes or talking can land in another person’s mouth, nose or eyes. Droplets also spread through surfaces touched by an infected person.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that most adults spread the disease one day before they have symptoms. They also can infect others up to seven days after they have the flu, so it is important for sick people to stay at home. Rest and stay away from others for at least 24 hours after fever has ended without use of fever-reducing medicine.

Proper hand-washing remains the best preventive measure against the flu, Hackert said. Use soap and water, washing hands and wrists thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. Wash before eating, after using the restroom and after contact with others. Also, sneeze into upper sleeves instead of into your hands and wash hands after coughing or sneezing.

MU Extension offers a video on proper hand-washing techniques at youtube.com/watch?v=UXll-_eT46g.