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Health Alert: Flu

The 2012-2013 FLU season has reached epidemic proportions here in the Tristate area. If you have not done so, go to your doctor or local pharmacy post haste and get a flu shot. This vaccine may not prevent the flu in all cases but will certainly be a milder version should you catch it. Prevention techniques advocated by doctors include consistent hand washing, especially before you eat, prepare food or touch your face. Carry bacterial disinfectant wipes for your hands and be vigilant after touching door handles, ATM machines, computer swipe keypads at drug stores, supermarkets and department stores as well as railings or chairs in any public facility. The flu isn’t the only virus to make a big show this year, the dreaded Norovirus is right behind, no pun intended, with symptoms ranging from nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea. Also this month, the C.D.C. said the United States was having its biggest outbreak of pertussis (whopping cough) in 60 years; there were about 42,000 confirmed cases, the highest total since 1955. The disease is unrelated to flu but causes a hacking, constant cough and breathlessness. While it is unpleasant, adults almost always survive; the greatest danger is to infants, especially premature ones with undeveloped lungs.

One thing the CDC and doctors agree upon, the way to stave off these viruses is by hand washing with antibacterial soap. There is no substitute for washing your hands often.