CLARK, NJ - As flu season is in full gear and the probability of catching the flu is a real concern, a majority of Americans admit to taking actions that may contribute to the spread of this highly contagious virus. According to a recent survey, roughly three out of five Americans who have had the flu or flu-like symptoms (61%) admitted to being out and about the last time they felt sick, putting others at risk, likely without them knowing.
The online survey was conducted among over 1,800 Americans ages 18 and older who have had the flu or flu-like symptoms by Harris Poll on behalf of CityMD, a network of more than 75 urgent care centers in the New York City Tristate area and Seattle, Wash.
Where did they go? Unfortunately, all over town.
Germiest Places During Flu Season
When asked where they went the last time they felt sick, those who left the house indicated:
Who are the Top Offenders? Parents and Millennials
- 75 percent of parents with children under 18 who have had the flu or flu-like symptoms left home the last time they felt sick.
- Millennials (ages 18-34) who have had the flu or flu-like symptoms were much more likely than those 35 and older to have ventured out the last time they felt sick (76 percent vs. 56 percent).
Of those who left the house, where did they go?
People Not Taking Precautions to Prevent Spreading Germs
The CityMD survey also found that some Americans who have had the flu or flu-like symptoms did not take standard precautionary measures to prevent the spread of germs the last time they felt sick:
- More than half (51 percent) did not use hand sanitizer after they coughed/sneezed
- 57 percent did not use disinfectant wipes on surfaces they touched
- Roughly 1 in 4 (26 percent) did not wash their hands after coughing/sneezing
Q&A with Dr. David Shih, Executive Vice President of Strategy, Health and Innovation at CityMD
What are the symptoms of the flu versus a bad cold?
In general, the common cold is typically milder than the flu. Flu symptoms are usually more severe and intense, and come on more quickly. While cold symptoms can make a person feel bad for a few days, flu symptoms can make patients feel quite ill and miserable for several days to weeks. Flu symptoms often mimic cold symptoms with nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat and cough. But people with the flu are much more likely to have a high fever, along with headaches, body and muscle aches, and significant fatigue.
What are doctors seeing at the CityMD in Clark? Number of cases that tested positive for the flu? Is it rising over the last few weeks or steady?
The flu season peaked early this year and has been more severe than in the recent past. We're still seeing many cases of the flu at all our locations across the New York Metro Area, including Clark, New Jersey. While there is no predicting how long it will last and the flu season typically runs through April, we hope that the number of new cases will begin to level off and decline soon.
What do you recommend to people who have the flu?
If you have the flu, you should always cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing, and wash your hands frequently with warm soap and water. Using hand sanitizer is even better. If possible, you should stay home from work or errands to decrease your exposure to others, especially when you are feeling your worst, coughing and sneezing constantly.
How long do flu germs last on surfaces you touch?
Flu germs can last up to 24 hours, depending on the surface. The harder the surface, the longer the germs can last. If you think about all the surfaces you touch when you are out and about – the grocery cart, check-out counters, office copier
machine and ATM buttons – it’s pretty overwhelming. People tend not to think about this – the flu can spread silently.
How long are people contagious?
There is a myth that if you wait one or two days, you are no longer contagious. That’s not necessarily true. As long as you have symptoms and are exposing germs to your hands or the air, you are contagious.
What can you do to prevent the flu?
First and foremost, get the flu shot. Also wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer to limit exposure to the flu virus.
Does the flu shot really work?
Yes, the flu shot will decrease your chances significantly for getting the flu, and may reduce the severity and longevity of symptoms you experience should you get it. Every year the CDC identifies the 4 most likely strains of the flu and develops the vaccine. When you get the flu shot you are adding a layer of protection against the flu.
If you get the flu shot are you more likely to get the flu?
No, that is just a myth. The flu shot is not a live virus injection. It's an inactivated vaccine. The symptoms some people feel are normal, mild side effects from the vaccine activating their immune systems. When your immune system is activated and working, there can be side effects as though your body is exposed to and fighting a real virus.
Is the flu shot safe for the elderly, children and pregnant women?
Yes, the flu shot is safe as it is mercury free. However, it is always best for all pregnant women to consult with their OB-GYNs.
How long does it take to fully recover from the flu?
It takes time for the body to rest and heal, but how long can be different for each person. Most typically recover in 3-5 days, younger people tend to recover faster while others need two weeks to fully recover.
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of CityMD from August 24-28, 2017 among 2,067 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, among whom 1,857 have had the flu or flu-like symptoms. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact email@example.com.
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