The number of flu cases in Nebraska is expected to bound over the next few days as so many people were in close contact with others during the Christmas holiday.
With plenty of New Year’s Eve parties just ahead, epidemiologist Patty Quinlisk suggests even more people will be getting sick unless they practice good prevention techniques.
“Always, during the holidays when you have people traveling, sitting next to people on trains, buses and airplanes or just having big gatherings with family and friends – all of that allows flu to spread much more easily,” Quinlisk says. “We do typically, right after the Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year’s holidays, see spikes in our cases of influenza and a lot of other diseases.”
Although it can be a difficult decision to skip a New Year’s Eve gatherings, Quinlisk advises sick people to stay home rather than put relatives and friends at risk.
“If you have a family member who is sick, don’t encourage them to go to a party even thought if they’re not feeling well,” Quinlisk says. “That’s a time to stay home and keep all those bugs to yourself and not spread your viruses.”
Nebraskans are encouraged to protect themselves from the flu by getting the vaccine. In addition to a flu shot, Quinlisk says another key to avoid getting sick is practicing good hygiene.
“It’s something as simple as just making sure you wash with soap and water for about 20 seconds after you use the restroom,” Quinlisk says. “Certainly if you’re around people who are coughing and sneezing you might want to wash your hands a little bit more often. The cleaner we keep our hands, the less likely we are to pick up a bug from a door knob or something like that and inoculate ourselves by touching our nose.”
Learn more about the flu — and how to prevent it — here.