How to stop the spread of flu during an outbreak

By Deborah P. Kim, PharmD Jun 18, 2022 • 3 min

It's that time of year again—when an orchestra of sniffling noses and phlegmy coughs seem to take place everywhere you go.

When flu season is upon us, the flu can spread quickly among people who are together for a long time. If you or someone in your family gets sick, do your best to keep the flu from spreading to others.

Here's what you can do:

Practice good hygiene

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol if you don’t have access to running water.
  • Avoid touching your face, as flu can be spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with the virus and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are frequently touched, like doorknobs, keyboards and phones. Some viruses can potentially infect a person for up to 48 hours after being deposited on hard surfaces, such as tables, doorknobs and desks, according to the CDC. Flu viruses are killed by heat above 167° F [75° C] in your dishwasher and clothes washer. For surfaces, soap and water should be enough. You can also use common household cleaning products containing chlorine, hydrogen peroxide or alcohol.
  • Try to keep your distance from people who are sick, and especially avoid shaking hands, hugging or kissing them
  • Don't share meals, drinks or utensils
  • Try to avoid large crowds as much as possible
  • Get the flu vaccine to help protect yourself

Take special precautions if you are ill

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water
  • Stay home from school or work until at least 24 hours after your fever is gone (without the use of fever-reducing medicine)
  • Keep your distance from other household members
  • Get as much rest as possible and drink plenty of water
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
  • Throw away all used tissues and uneaten food you may have touched
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Try not to touch surfaces and objects that are used and shared often

Ask your pharmacist or provider if you have any questions about flu, need your vaccination or need help managing flu symptoms. Do your part to keep the flu from spreading this season!

Clinically reviewed and updated by Nancy Kupka, PhD, RN, June 2022.

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