This time of year, the cold weather brings us indoors where viruses and bacteria can spread easily from person to person. Almost every winter, the Cascade City-County Health Department’s ongoing surveillance with the local healthcare community shows an increase in individuals with respiratory concerns, like coughs and colds, and gastrointestinal illness, which include symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. This winter appears no different, as an increase in gastrointestinal illnesses has been observed recently, and Cascade County has also confirmed cases of influenza. However, there are steps you can take to stay healthy during these cold months.
“Oftentimes, these illnesses can be prevented with a few simple prevention habits.” says Trixie Smith, Prevention Services Manager. “These include frequent hand washing, covering your coughs and sneezes, and staying home when you are sick.” It is especially important to stay home if you or your sick child regularly interacts with adults over 65, other children, or people whose immune systems are compromised, as seasonal infections can affect these groups more severely. That means it’s important to keep your kid home from school!
Practicing good prevention habits can keep you and your family healthy this winter:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water; you may also use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water is not readily available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; germs are easily spread this way.
- Routinely clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces and objects, like telephones and doorknobs. This is especially important after an episode of illness. Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces and remove and wash any clothing or linens that may be contaminated after an episode of illness.
- Don’t prepare food if you are sick.
- Ensure you get adequate rest and eat a healthy diet.
One additional weapon is available against influenza: the flu vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu vaccine is the best way to prevent influenza. If you have not already, visit CCHD ASAP for your vaccine, and protect yourself, your family, and your community from this potentially serious respiratory illness.
Download our printable fact sheets for more information!