Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- As the holidays approach, thousands of Central New Yorkers are sick with the flu.
In Onondaga County last year, there was one reported case of the flu. This year, the county has seen 1,277 reported cases.
As we gather with our families to celebrate the holiday, it’s easy to spread germs and most of us don’t take the extra precaution of wearing gloves when preparing meals.
“Even in your own house, even without family gatherings, we generally tend to let our guard down at home,” said Bruce Simmons, MD, Director of Upstate’s Employee/Student Health Office.
But you likely prepare foods and tables the way restaurants do -- touching knives, chicken, faucets, and silverware, all while chancing the spread of illness if you have one.
“Germs can attach to anything: silverware, food, counter tops, so all of that…washing your hands before putting out silverware, washing silverware, all of that is extremely important,” explained Sharkey’s Eclectic Bar and Grill General Manager Frank Yaizzo.
Along with getting a flu shot, doctors say washing your hands as often as possible is your best defense.
“The main thing is not to put your hands to your eyes, your nose, your mouth without cleansing them,” Dr. Simmons said.
Just like at a restaurant, there may be things sitting on your table all the time. Just like a salt and pepper shaker. It's important to empty them out and clean them as well. Keeping everyone healthy is a matter of keeping everything clean.
“It's difficult when there are family gatherings, people gather together, and in fact, you can actually pass the flu on at least a day before you actually come down with the symptoms,” Dr. Simmons continued.
Dr. Simmons says the flu is actually as contagious as the chicken pox, so because the flu is so rampant right now, even if no one has symptoms, it’s important to wash and sanitize constantly.
Dr. Simmons also says if you’ve gotten the flu shot, you can still get the flu, though it will likely be a much less severe. He says it’s also important to remember that it can take two weeks to build up you immunity to the virus once you get the shot, so if you got one recently you should still take the necessary precautions to avoid getting the flu.
On the web –Click here to find flu shot locations near you