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State Stresses Respiratory Hygiene In Effort To Cut Down On Flu Cases

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RALEIGH, N.C. — With North Carolina in the middle of a flu outbreak, the state health department has moved up its launch of a campaign that stresses respiratory hygiene.

The goal of the campaign is to encourage people to wash their hands often and cover their mouths with tissue when they cough or sneeze.

According to the health department, the precautions could cut down on the number of flu cases.

Raleigh resident Kimberly Harness still was stuffy and coughing on Tuesday.

"I was achy a couple of days ago," Harness said. "I'm not achy now, but I'm still tired."

Harness did not want to go back to work too soon and expose others to her illness.

"I know how easily something like this can spread," she said.

Many people with the flu do go back before they should. State epidemiologist Jeffrey Engel said that is a big mistake.

Engel said someone easily can spread the flu to dozens of people with close contact.

"You can actually be contagious one day before you get sick, and you reach your peak contagious period two or three days later," Engel said. "But you can be contagious for as much as a week after."

At Children's Discovery Center, 16 children are out sick. The center's director is asking their parents to be responsible.

"All of us have to be diligent and make sure we do the right thing and keep our children as safe as possible," Director Anne Caspar said.

Caspar is encouraging kids and employees to wash their hands often. Teachers also are trying to keep noses clean.

So, when is it safe to send your kids back to school or come back to the office? Doctors say one sure sign is when you no longer have a temperature.

If people come back before then, experts say co-workers could get sick in a day or two.

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