The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have declared Central Indiana an area of widespread flu outbreak.
What is the flu? The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms.
* Fever (although not everyone has one), feeling feverish, chills
* Cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose
* Muscle or body aches, headaches fatigue (very tired)
* Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby.
Less often a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and touching their own mouth, eyes or possibly their noise.
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. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to 7 days after becoming sick.
So, knowing all this, how do we protect ourselves and others from the flu?
The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine each season. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older should be vaccinated each year. With a lot of flu season still ahead of us, it's not too late.
* Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others.
* Stay home when you are sick.
* If possible, stay home from work, school, meetings and errands when you are sick to help others stay healthy.
* Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue and throw it away immediately and wash your hands. Clean your hands often with soap, warm water and disposable towel. If water is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Keeping your environment clean is an important way to prevent infection. Dangerous germs can take up residence anywhere and influenza viruses can live on hard surfaces for 2-8 hours. By keeping them to a minimum, you will reduce your chances of developing an infection and improve your health.
* Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces on a regular basis
* Clean more often when there are sick family members
* Minimize clutter to avoid dust and dirt and aid the cleaning process
* Clean phones, keyboards and other high-touch areas frequently; know which products to use and how to use them properly.
* Hard surfaces and high-touch area(desks, keyboards, door handles) should be cleaned and disinfected frequently
* Bodily fluids (blood, pus, drainage) should be cleaned up and disinfected immediately wearing gloves
Sources: Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Immunization, and Respiratory Diseases
Jan. 17 -- 4-H Junior Leader Meeting, Fairgrounds, 7 p.m.
Jan. 21 -- Extension Office Closed, MLK Holiday
Jan. 22-24 -- Indiana Horticulture Congress, Wyndham Hotel, Indianapolis
Jan. 24 -- Crop Water Management Conference, Beef House, 9:15 a.m.
Feb. 2 -- E.H. Leader Lesson "Handy Woman 911", Extension Office, 1 p.m.
Feb. 7 -- Ext. Homemakers Holiday Program at the Fairgrounds, 7 p.m.
Feb. 14 -- Ext. Homemakers County Council meeting, Extension Classroom, 11:30 p.m.
Feb. 17 -- Putnam 2013 4-H Launch, Fairgrounds, 2-4 p.m.
March 1-2 -- Indiana Small Farms Conference, Danville