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Winter Sicknesses On The Rise

CEDAR RAPIDS (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- They commonly say Doc I feel like I was hit by a truck.  What that means, as Saint Lukes Hospital Emergency Room Physician Josh Pruitt checks their vitals, is that they are the latest victim of the flu that seems to be spiking in the corridor.

If you arent sick, chances are very good you know someone who is.  Dr, Pruitt says it seems to be turning into an active influenza season.

At the Linn County Health Department, Public Health Nurse Heather Meador warns a patient they are about to feel a poke in their upper arm.

And you are now protected from the flu." She says its never too late to get a flu shot, especially when you look at how the illness exploded right after holiday gatherings.

Every flu is different, we never know for sure when were going to hit that peak time but we do know that flu is in our community right now.  We could be getting closer to that peak, its hard to say for sure, but we are seeing more cases of it."

Doctors say with kids back in class the bug is crawling through some schools and while you might not think germs could survive this weeks 40-below wind chill, it actually just made things worse according to Dr. Pruitt.

"Particularly the cold weather drives people indoors and so you have people who are infected in close contact with other people and so we  are seeing it spread."

He says at emergency rooms like Saint Lukes where the number of flu cases are on the rise, its time to talk about prevention. Healthcare professionals say one of the keys for all of us is to not be a hero and figure were doing everyone a big favor by going to work or school. They say if youre sick, stay home.

A few lost work days for one person is much better than lost work days for the entire office.

Meador says by now the common themes to prevent illness are well known, but a refresher with a little new information can still be valuable.  She says 1)  Get a flu shot now.  2) If you sneeze, sneeze into your elbow or a tissue.  If you sneeze into your hand it will spread germs everywhere.  3)  Hand sanitizers are okay if its all you have, but hot water and soap is still the best germ killer.  And  4)  If you have symptoms youre contagious and you should stay home.
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