November 23, 2004
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is reminding people traveling over the Thanksgiving holidays of personal precautions they can take to avoid getting or spreading the flu.
Texas Commissioner of State Health Services Eduardo Sanchez said the flu vaccine shortage this season makes some “simple, but highly effective” steps more important than ever.
“With the rain, colder temperatures and family gatherings, people will be spending more time together indoors. This increases the chances of germs, such as the flu virus, being spread from person to person. The increased travel increases the chances of spread from city to city,” he said.
Sanchez said the main personal precautions for reducing the risk of getting or spreading influenza are:
- Cover coughs and sneezes to reduce the spread of viruses and other germs.
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
- Stay home from work, school and other places and gatherings if you have symptoms of a respiratory illness.
“This is travel advice, not a travel advisory,” Sanchez emphasized. “We want everyone to have a safe, happy, relaxing Thanksgiving, but we want them to have a healthy Thanksgiving, too.”
People with the flu generally can transmit the virus to others from one day before getting sick to from three to seven days after getting sick.
The incubation period, or length of time between exposure to the flu virus and development of symptoms ranges from one to four days and is typically about two days.
Symptoms of the flu -- which usually come on suddenly -- typically include fever, headache, sore throat, body aches, tiredness, dry cough and nasal congestion.
The DSHS surveillance report for last week classifies flu activity in the state as “sporadic,” in contrast to a “widespread” rating for the same period last year.
(News Media: for more information contact Doug McBride, DSHS Press Officer, 512-458-7524.)