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By Kelsie Hoitomt
According to the American Red Cross, widespread flu activity is being reported throughout much of the country, in at least 41 states including Wisconsin and Minnesota. The Centers for Disease Control says this is one of the worst influenza outbreaks in several years in the United States.
The Red Cross is urging people to get the flu vaccine for everyone who is six months of age and older.
The basic steps to help prevent the flu are covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing. Do not cough or sneeze into hands. Wash hands often, especially after coughing or sneezing. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Avoid close contact with people who are sick and stay home if you are sick.
The common signs of influenza are high fever, severe body aches, headache, being extremely tire, sore throat, cough, runny or stuffy nose and vomiting and/or diarrhea -which is more common in children.
If someone in the household does get the flu, designate one person as the caregiver and have the other household members avoid close contact with the sick person. Designate a sick room for the person and keep a lined trash can, liquids, thermometer, tissues etc in that room for that person to use and only them. Make sure the person stays at home and rests until 24 hours after the fever is gone. Keep everything in the house disinfected including doorknobs, switches, handles, telephones, sinks, tables, toys etc. Make sure the sick person receives plenty of clear liquids.
If someone thinks they have the flu, their health-care provider should be consulted. Do seek medical care immediately if the person develops fast breathing, trouble breathing, bluish skin, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, confusion or sudden dizziness, not drinking enough fluids, not being able to eat or severe/persistent vomiting. Consult a doctor if children are so irritable they do not wish to be held or interacted with, have a fever with a rash or have no tears when crying or have fewer wet diapers.