Oakwood urges common steps to prevent spread of flu virus

With the flu season in full swing, health officials are urging people to get vaccinated and to take several common sense steps to prevent germs from spreading.

As of this week, the Centers for Disease Control has reported widespread flu activity in all but two states—and Michigan was, unfortunately, one of those that had reported a large number of cases.

“We’re definitely seeing more cases than usual, but I don’t think we’ve seen the peak of the season just yet,” said Dr. Daniel Sheesley, director of Emergency Medicine at the Oakwood Hospital & Medical Center in Dearborn. “Children and elderly patients are most vulnerable. We’re following the CDC recommendations for testing which focus specifically on the very young, the very old and those with pre-existing illnesses.” He said he’s been seeing several patients a day with symptoms.

The flu is a contagious respiratory virus with symptoms, including: fever, cough, sore throat, aches of all types, a runny or stuffy nose and fatigue. Some people show additional maladies, such as nausea and diarrhea, but they are not primary symptoms of the illness.

A few simple, common sense steps can help prevent the flu from spreading further, such as:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
• Avoid close contact with sick people.
• Get plenty of sleep and exercise, drink plenty of fluids, and eat healthy food.
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
• If you are sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.

If you are experiencing a combination of those symptoms, your first course of action should be to call your primary care physician, if you have one.

"It's better to see a primary care physician within the first 24 to 48 hours for the most effective treatment," said Hussein Saad, MD, who has seen a steady stream of patients at the Oakwood Healthcare Center – Southgate, which also provides urgent care services . “It starts quick and often takes people by surprise.”

The best way to avoid the virus is to get vaccinated. The flu vaccine is safe and does not cause the virus, although some people may feel temporary, mild side effects.

Oakwood has several locations that provide flu shots, as well as same day appointments if you’re feeling under the weather. The CDC has a database of locations, too, as does the Wayne County Dept. of Public Health.