Flu much bigger threat to U.S. than Coronavirus
Despite the coronavirus alert, contracting the flu is a much bigger threat to Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that as of January 2020 over 15 million Americans got the flu. More than 140,000 people have been hospitalized and over 8,000 deaths. These numbers may sound alarming, however, the 2019-2020 flu season is not a particularly bad flu year. Last year, the CDC estimates more than 34,000 people died from the flu. And the prior season saw 61,000 deaths.
In contrast, the Coronavirus is NOT currently spreading in the United States. While the CDC is closely monitoring the outbreak and recommends avoiding nonessential travel to China, the immediate health risk from Coronavirus is considered LOW. The CDC urges the public to instead focus on the active flu season as it poses greater risk.
Healthy Habits to Help Prevent Flu
It is not too late to get the flu vaccine. Unlike the coronavirus, a vaccine exists for the flu. Flu season peaks between December-February and, in general, remains the best way to protect yourself against getting the flu.
Another effective strategy to prevent flu virus exposure? Wash your hands. Touching your hand to a contaminated surface and then to your eyes, nose or mouth is how the virus most often gets inside you. The CDC recommends to lather up and scrub for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice. Washing your hands is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations, but if soap and water are not available use hand sanitizer.
Inhaling airborne particles from an infected person’s cough or sneeze is another way the virus spreads. The CDC recommends avoiding close contact with people who are sick. And if you are the one who is sick, stay home from work, school or errands to prevent spreading your illness to others. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses, including the novel coronavirus if it were to spread within the U.S.
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