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Flu Season Update and Flu Prevention Guidelines

After a relatively mild 2011-2012 flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting as of Jan. 25, 2013 that California is now experiencing high levels of influenza-like illness (ILI) and that flu activity is rising in the West. The Law School is taking steps to mitigate any impact the flu might have on campus. Historically, February is the peak month for flu activity, according to the CDC. Here are a few things you can do to prevent the spread of the flu:

  • Stay home if you are sick. The flu is contagious, and the CDC recommends that those who believe they are infected stay home. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Antiviral drugs are available to treat the flu.
  • Practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaners also are effective.
  • Practice respiratory etiquette by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow or shoulder, not into your hands. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth as germs are spread this way.
  • Avoid sharing linens, eating utensils and dishes with someone who is sick without first washing them thoroughly. Eating utensils can be washed either in a dishwasher or by hand with water and soap and do not need to be cleaned separately.
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Consider a vaccination. Find a vaccine location, including clinics with free vaccinations. According to a CDC study, the flu vaccine is 62 percent effective. The Los Angeles County Department of Public health encourages vaccination as “the single most effective preventive measure against infection or severe illness due to influenza.”

Tips for Staying Healthy

Help mitigate the spread of the flu by following some simple steps:

  • Practice cough etiquette. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Use the nearest waste receptacle to dispose of the tissue after use. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow or shoulder, not into your hands. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way. 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and hot water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid contact with others who display flu-like symptoms. If you must be in contact with someone who is sick, try to stay at least three feet from them.
  • Be familiar with the common signs and symptoms of the flu: 
    • Fever, which is a temperature (taken with a thermometer) that is equal to or greater than 100 degrees
    • Cough, headache, runny nose, sore throat and muscle aches
    • Vomiting and diarrhea 

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