Local News

N.C. Launches New Campaign To Help Cut Spread Of Flu

Posted January 8, 2004

— Ninety-three children across the country have died from this year's flu outbreak, nine in North Carolina. Thursday, the

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

launched a new education program aimed at children -- entitled

"Germ Stoppers"

-- in hopes of reducing the spread of the disease.

State health leaders have launched a similar campaign that encourages good respiratory hygiene.

State Epidemiologist Jeff Engel said his department planned to launch the campaign to address the spread of SARS. But with such an early flu season, officials moved it up and included the flu, too.

"When people are at their peak infectious period, they spread their disease to 20 to 40 other people," Engel said. "This is true for flu, common cold, or SARS. By following respiratory hygiene, we think this impact could be significantly reduced."

Like most people in the area, Monica Wood knows someone who had the flu.

"I kind of catch myself washing my hands more so now," Wood said.

She is doing all she can to make sure she and her 4-month-old son do not catch it.

"There's the scare of him getting sick with something happening, with all the worries right now with the flu being out there, especially with young children," she said.

The state also wants to make sure the flu does not spread. This week, 25,000 posters went out across North Carolina to be used in health-care settings.

The campaign is all about educating the sick. The posters encourage people who have a fever, a cough or a rash to ask for a mask.

The state has sent the posters to county health departments, which will distribute them to doctors' offices and hospitals. You also will see them in waiting rooms.

If you are sick, health officials also want you to wash your hands and limit your exposure to other people. When coughing or sneezing, you should use a tissue and then immediately throw it away.

"Whatever we can do to curtail the spread of the disease, we'll take it," Engel said.

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