Protect yourself from viruses Published Feb. 10, 2020 72nd Medical Group The Center for Disease Control says that an estimated 19 million cases of flu have been reported for the 2019-20 U.S. flu season including 180,000 hospitalizations and 10,000 deaths. The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and sometimes the lungs. Symptoms for the flu can include a fever, cough, chills, sore throat, runny nose, muscle and body aches, headache and fatigue. The flu can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu virus spreads mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. A person may also contract flu by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes. People with the flu are most contagious in the first three to four days after illness begins. Symptoms develop five to seven days after becoming sick. Symptoms may begin two days after the virus enters the body. High risk populations for the flu include children five years and younger, those 65 years and older, pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions. The best way to prevent the flu is to get the flu vaccine each year. However, there are routine prevention methods that can be used to stop the spread of the flu and other contagious illnesses. How to prevent flu: Get vaccinated • The best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated every year. Avoid close contact • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. • Avoid common living areas to protect family members. Stay home if you are sick • If possible, stay home from work, school and errands when you’re sick. • Keep sick children away from school/daycare. Practice good hand hygiene/cough etiquette • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. • Wash your hands frequently. • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. If you’re experiencing any signs and symptoms of flu or sickness, contact your health care provider immediately. Active duty service members may utilize the walk-in sick call. All beneficiaries and active duty members may call the appointment line at 734-2778 or Tricare Nurse Advice line at (800) 874-2273. For emergencies such as difficulty breathing, chest pain or other concerning symptoms, go directly to the nearest emergency room. For more information about the flu and other viruses, visit www.cdc.gov.