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Your Life, Your Health: Preventing the flu

When someone with a cold sneezes on you, youre infected immediately.  Symptoms of the flu like muscle aches and fever, take 2 to 3 days to show up before becoming full-blown influenza.

Albany Memorial Hospital Infection Control Practitioner Marty Luzinas says last years flu season was particularly bad in New York State. This year a big push is being made in prevention, particularly hospitals. She points to a red sticker on her hospital ID.

At a glance you can easily identify if your provider has had their vaccination. Luzinas says. Flu has huge implications and consequences especially in older folks and younger people. Also anyone with underlying diseases like diabetes or lung disease.

The New York State Department of Health now directs staff to get the flu vaccine or wear masks in areas where patients are.  The Centers for Disease Control says widespread flu has already been reported in New York State, but Luzinas says not every case requires a trip to the ER.

Coming to the ED (emergency department) should be your last resort if youre having severe symptoms. Extreme fevers, getting dehydrated, you cant drink or swallow, youre having problems breathing.

First line of defense against the flu is getting vaccinated. Even then, it takes two weeks to build immunity. In the meantime there are several simple things you can do around the home or office to prevent or limit the spread.

First, wash your hands often and thoroughly.

Secondly, when you sneeze do it into your elbow versus hands. This way germs wont spread when you shake hands with someone, or touch something.

Thirdly, think of the items your reuse often at home or work. This can be light switches, door knobs, keyboards, TV remotes and kid lunchboxes Luzinas says once or twice a day give everything a quick wipe down to minimize the transition of germs between family members.

According to the New York State Department of Health the flu is typically spread through the droplets coughs and/or sneezes.  Very contagious, each year on average 200,000 people are hospitalized nationwide from flu complications. 36,000 people die from the flu.

For more information, visit the NYSDHs website: https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/influenza/seasonal/