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Team Whiteman encouraged to protect themselves from the flu

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo., -- Throughout history, infectious disease has been one of the most challenging adversaries for military forces. The outcome of almost every major military campaign has been decided by the health of the forces. In an effort to maintain force health protection, people battle influenza on a yearly basis.

The "influenza season" in the United States takes place from October through May each year.

Flu is caused by a virus that spreads from the infected person to the noses or throats of others, and can move rapidly through groups of people residing in dormitories and work areas. Flu can cause fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, muscle aches, chills, and fatigue.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, seasonal influenza kills about 36,000 people and hospitalizes more than 200,000 people each year in the United States. The single best way to prevent the flu is to get the flu vaccination each fall. The vaccination provides up to 90 percent protection.

Currently, the 509th Medical Group has a limited supply of seasonal flu and H1N1; however, they are receiving doses on a weekly basis.

Other methods to prevent getting the flu include:

· Wash hands at least five times a day. When washing hands, aim for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap. This will protect from the virus that causes the flu.
· Avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
· Cover mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. If a person doesn't have a tissue, they should try to cough or sneeze into his or her elbow. When the hands are protected, it may prevent those around them from getting sick.
· If people are sick with a flu-like illness, the CDC recommends they stay home for at least 24 hours after their fever has resolved. Notable exceptions include the seeking of medical care or requirement for other necessities. Note that the 24-hour rule requires the fever to be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
· While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible. This is to keep from infecting them.

For questions regarding the flu, contact the Public Health office at (660) 687-4310.