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December 19, 2013
Epidemiology nurse: Take care to avoid spreading flu this month

Nobody wants to get the flu for Christmas, but with the virus spreading both locally and across the state, the season for giving has arrived.

Utah is currently experiencing more influenza activity than most other U.S. states, and the number of cases reported for the state this season is above average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Locally, Tooele has seen an uptick in flu over the past week, said Louise Ekenstam, an epidemiology nurse with the Tooele County Health Department.

Ekenstam said she is only aware of one local hospitalization related to the flu so far this season, and Utah has yet to see any deaths from the virus. However, holiday travel and family parties in close quarters give the virus ample opportunity to spread.

To avoid spreading the virus this season, Ekenstam urged residents to remember their cough and cold etiquette over the holidays. This includes all the usual advice—cover your cough, wash your hands, avoid touching your face and eyes, etc.

Ekenstam particularly emphasized the importance of self-isolation, and said those who fall ill should stay home as much as possible to avoid getting others sick.

Vaccination is also an important part of flu prevention, she said. For those who have not yet received a flu shot, the health department continues to offer flu clinics every Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. The clinic will be closed on Christmas day, but will otherwise remain open through the holidays.

The Tooele County Health Department is located at 151 N. Main, Tooele.

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