Influenza Facts: The Hows and Whys of Flu Prevention


AUSTIN – Last week Texas ranked No. 12 in the U.S. for state influenza activity. Earlier this year, Texas was reported to have one of the highest levels of flu illness in the country. Still, only 43.5 percent of Texans receive an annual vaccination[1],[2].

“The flu, while cureless, can be avoided through basic preventative measures,” says Stacey R. Gouzenne, M.D., national chief medical officer for FastMed Urgent Care and Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians. “Annual vaccination before November is your best protection against the flu.”

One of the reasons the flu virus tends to spread so quickly is because it’s often passed to others before the person carrying the virus exhibits any symptoms. Infected individuals can be contagious for up to one day before symptoms develop, and up to seven days afterward.

Frequent hand washing, decontaminating frequently touched surfaces such as smartphones and keyboards, keeping hands away from your face and nose, sneezing into a tissue or your elbow to avoid spreading germs, and never sharing food, drinks, or toothbrushes with others.

If you do catch the flu, do your best to keep it to yourself. The CDC recommends you stay home for a minimum of 24 hours after a fever subsides. This means without help from a fever-reducing medicine.