Coughing. Fever. Runny nose. Upset stomach. Diarrhea. You probably know someone with these symptoms right now. This is the time of year when reports of influenza, norovirus and other viral and foodborne illnesses begin to pour into the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment. The best way to prevent these germs from making their way to you is frequent handwashing. Wash hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper and always before eating, preparing or handling food. Alcohol-based sanitizers should be used if soap and water are not available.
If you haven’t gotten a flu shot, it’s not too late. Influenza typically peaks in late January through February. The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment offers flu shots at its Olathe and Mission walk-in health clinics. No appointment is needed. Flu vaccines are also available in many locations, including doctor's offices, clinics, pharmacies, grocery stores and college health centers.
If you are the one who is sick, limit your contact with others as much as possible. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw tissues in the trash after you use them. Stay home from work or school until you are fever-free for 24 hours without the aid of fever-reducing medication, like ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
If you have a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus, ask your doctor about antiviral drugs. Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They also can prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia.
If you’re infected with a gastrointestinal illness, wait at least 48 hours after symptoms stop before returning to work or school. Clean and disinfect all surfaces and laundry that have been contaminated with vomit or stool.
Following these simple steps will help prevent the spread of these highly contagious germs around our community and keep you healthy this winter.