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Now is the time to take proper steps to prevent flu

Already, the flu is beginning to wreak havoc on the Commonwealth.

The first flu-related death of the season was reported in Fayette County.

According to a report from the Courier Journal of Louisville, in February 2018, the Kentucky Cabinet For Health and Family Services reported 100 flu-related deaths. During the 2016-2017 flu season, the commonwealth recorded 76 deaths.

If you haven’t already, now is the best time to begin taking precautions to protect yourself and your family.

The effects from the flu can range from symptoms like a headache, cough, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing and body aches. Those symptoms can keep you home from work or school for three days or more, and can ultimately be fatal in some cases.

The best way to prevent contracting the flu is to have a flu vaccine. These are available at your county health department, your primary care provider, local pharmacies and more.

The second tenant to fighting the flu is preventing the spread of the virus. This is done through good health and hygiene practices.

Here are some tips:

— Wash your hands often with soap and water for 15-20 seconds or use alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers.

— Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs often are spread when a person touches an object contaminated with germs and then touches one of those facial areas.

— Get an annual flu shot to help your body develop antibodies to protect against influenza infection.

— Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from contracting your illness.

— Stay home from work, school and errands if possible when you are sick. This will help prevent others from catching your illness.

— Remind children to practice healthy habits. Germs spread easily at school and in child care settings, resulting in high rates of absenteeism among students and staff.

Each year, between 12,000 and 15,000 die in the U.S. from flu-related complications. Additionally, anywhere from 140,000 to 710,000 people area hospitalized with the flu annually, according to the CDC.

Prevention is key in fighting the potentially tragic effects of this virus. Act now.

— The Winchester Sun

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