A lot of Iowans will be traveling to visit family this Thanksgiving holiday weekend, but state public health officials says some of those people should stay home. State epidemiologist Dr. Patricia Quinlisk says flu cases usually increase right after the holiday.
"We’ve actually had a couple times when people will go home for Thanksgiving and they come back and the whole family gets sick because Uncle Joe decided even though he was running a fever and felt lousy, he’d come to Thanksgiving," Quinlisk says. "That’s the kind of thing we need to prevent. If you’re feeling sick and you think you’ve got the flu, that’s the time to stay home."
The Iowa Department of Public Health has been encouraging Iowans to get the flu vaccine prior to Thanksgiving. Quinlisk says the flu often spreads through kids at school, who pick up the bug from other kids who got sick over Thanksgiving.
Quinlisk is also reminding Iowans to cover their nose and mouth when they sneeze or cough, since that’s the primary way the virus is spread. "And the third thing is the thing that we always say – wash your hands," Quinlisk adds, "because you can get these viruses on your hands, and if you keep your hands clean, you’ve got less of a chance of infecting yourself with the stuff you get on your hands."