BY PHONG LY
Flu is still rampant across the United States, but the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the epidemic has peaked. It eased a bit in the last weekend of February, for the second week in a row. The CDC reported 17 flu deaths among children that week, bringing the total number of pediatric deaths to 114.
World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that annual flu seasons result in about 3 to 5 million cases of severe illness globally and 290,000 to 650,000 deaths.
Influenza is only one of four diseases that made CDC’s most highly contagious diseases. The other three are tuberculosis, cholera and measles. One certainly does not want to get diseases from other people, and most likely would not want to pass on a disease to somebody else. The question is how one know when a person is contagious, so one could avoid either getting the disease or passing it to others.
Ropa Runesu, a PharmD candidate at Drake University, said that the contagious time frame depends on the disease itself.
“With things like STIs, for examples, those can become contagious way before you even start showing symptoms,” Runesu said. “But for something like a cold, when you start coughing and sneezing and spreading the germs, that is when you start infecting people.”
The CDC says you are contagious one day before you start feeling sick and up to seven days after. It usually takes up to two days for your immune system to catch on and respond to the virus. You are probably the most contagious four days after you were infected. If you’re a kid, elderly, or have a weak immune system, you can be contagious for even longer.
According to Heathline, a destination site for health and wellness information, each time you sneeze or cough due to a respiratory infection, you release germ-filled projectile into the air. Those bacteria—or virus—filled particles can fly up to 6 feet, making anyone near you a target. You also spread bacteria and viruses when you touch your eyes, nose or mouth and then touch surfaces with those germ-infected fingers. Certain cold and flu germs can survive on surfaces such as countertops, doorknobs and phones for up to 24 hours.
Many would do whatever it takes to avoid getting sick. Sophomore Kemi Mugangala chose the option to not get close to anyone who shows contagious symptoms.
“My strategy to avoid getting sick is just to stay away from people and no physical contact with people who are sick,” Mugangala said.
Mugangala said she also tries to stay warm and take advantage of the hand sanitizer dispensers that are placed around campus to disinfect herself.
When you get sick, it is highly recommended that you say home. Healthline says when deciding whether or not to stay home you should consider your symptoms. If you have a mild tickle in your throat or a stuffy nose, you should be able to go into work. Allergy symptoms also don’t need to keep you from work since they are not contagious.
However, if you’re really coughing and sneezing or you feel generally miserable, do stay home. Also avoid the office if you’re vomiting or have diarrhea.
PharmD candidate Ropa Runesu recommended students to keep a clean surrounding environment.
“Wash your hands, especially after you have been to public spaces, holding doors and such,” Runesu said.
She also advised people with a cold or the flu to also wash their hands regularly to avoid spreading their illness.
“It is a two-way street,” Runesu said. “You would have to be responsible not to spread the disease and also be responsible with keeping yourself clean enough so you won’t get the disease.”
Runesu also mentioned it is a good idea to keep distance from people with flu-like symptoms, however you should still try to help your friends out anyway you can.
“If it’s just a random stranger on the street then it would be fine if you just walk away from them,” Runesu said. “But if it is your sick friend that you are trying to take care of, be close and help them out, but also be aware that they are contagious so remember to keep yourself clean afterwards.”
The CDC also recommends infected people get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids and wait for symptoms to subside. They also recommend staying home for 24 hours after a fever and other flu-like symptoms have cleared up.