Shooing the flu

Adults throughout the county are taking impromptu vacations this week. In offices everywhere, phones are going unanswered, plants aren’t getting watered and keyboards are getting treated to a day without being whacked repeatedly by eagerly typing fingers.

Meanwhile, those who should be answering phones, watering plants and keeping cursors sailing across Word documents are 10 yards down and out. They’re at home, either nursing children with the sniffly-sneezes or are in bed sipping chicken noodle soup through a straw themselves.

It’s that time of year again, when the flu rears its ugly, devastating head. Although the statistics through the Centers for Disease Control state the flu bug hasn’t stricken, empty office desks are telling a different story.

This year, the North End has been relatively lucky, said Vonnie Saucerman, a health consultant with the North Kitsap School District.

“It’s been a pretty mild flu season,” she said, before instinctively adding “knock on wood.”

Normally, when the absentee rate hits 10 percent in any school, the district gives a shout-out to the Kitsap County Health District. This year, Saucerman can only remember making that call for one elementary school and two middle schools about two weeks ago.

Now, it seems, the children are fine and the parents are suffering.

The flu season strikes from January to April, she said. If you haven’t been hit yet, brag not to your co-workers about your super-human immune system. Instead, thank your lucky stars and take some precautions to ensure your health. Here are some tips, taken from Discovery Health’s Web site:

• If you haven’t already gotten a flu shot, get one. Physicians recommend flu shots to anyone older than 50, anyone with a chronic illness, or anyone who comes in contact with a lot of people every day.

• Scrub-a-dub your paws. Seriously. Wash your hands with warm water and soap very, very often. Also consider investing in some alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

• Pop a multi-vitamin. Taking the daily recommended allowances of vitamins E, A, C and B-complex can make your immune system stronger.

• Don’t smoke.

• Sneeze or cough into tissues. Then throw away the tissue.

• Get enough sleep.

• Reduce your stress levels. Stress tends to weaken the body’s immune system.

Taking these precautions won’t guarantee the flu will bypass you, but it will help.

Be smart, be diligent, and be well.

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