How to avoid catching the flu

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How to avoid the flu

Your coworker is coughing and sneezing, and sick, but has come to work anyway.

What can you do, so you don't get the flu, too?

"If you have a hacking coworker send them home,"  Dr. Sharon Bergquist, an Emory Healthcare internist.  "If they won't go home, try and stay at least 3 feet apart from that person."

The flu virus is spread through aerosol droplets.

"If someone is coughing, it's best to avoid taking a breath around that person, anyway that you can," Bergquist says.  "Because that's how you would introduce the droplets into your own (body)."
And a sick person can also leave behind germs on shared surfaces, so wipe your office space down with a germ-killing disinfectant.

"If they've coughed on our used any of the equipment you use, sanitize your equipment," she says.

You also want to wash your hands, throughout the day.

"So if you have come into contact with doorknobs, telephones in an office space, wash your hands," Dr. Bergquist says.  "Don't count on the fact that the person is not there anymore, that they can't spread it.  They can still spread it indirectly."

Many of us don't realize how much we touch our faces, which is how the flu virus can get into our body. So, steal a page from your doctor's playbook.

"Throughout the day, I am compulsive about washing my hands," Bergquist says. "We use hand sanitizers before and after we see any patient. And we get in the habit of not touching our faces, even if we have an itch, we ignore it."

If a family member or roommate gets sick, kick quarantine mode.

"To try and create a space for the person who is sick, who can be somewhat isolated, but still support that person," Bergquist explains.

This will help minimize the risk of spreading the virus on shares surfaces and objects, try to keep the sick person confined to one or two rooms in your home.

"That would make sure that anything that person touches, or anything they've used, stays in one area of the house, and doesn't spread the flu germs throughout the entire area of the house," Bergquist says.

Finally, she says, assume whatever you touch -- pens, phones, the remote control, door handles are germy right now.  So, wash those hands, and don't touch your face.