Watch Out for the…Turkey Flu?

Soon enough, we will all be up to our elbows in mashed potatoes and turkey gravy, passed out in front of a football game and wondering, just as we do each year, the eternal question: “Why did I eat so much?!”

Thanksgiving is probably my second favorite holiday (Christmas wins first prize) because I just love cooking and relaxing with my family, without worrying about gifts or scurrying around town. We eat dinner, then we cover the living room of my parents’ house in sleeping bags and blankets, take naps, watch Christmas movies and eat pie. What could be better?

Well, I don’t know what could be better. But I know what could be worse — if we all spent the whole day coughing, sneezing and aching all over each other, spreading H1N1 like so much holiday cheer. For all of you out there who will either be bunking down at home like me or hitting the road, we have some tips for you to keep your holiday as healthy and happy as possible.

Before traveling…

  • If sick, stay home. It’s disappointing to not be able to join in the family celebration, but act responsibly and stay home to avoid spreading the flu.
  • It’s possible to spread the flu virus one day before actually showing symptoms.  Those who have been in close contact with a sick individual should be extra careful about using good hand hygiene and cough etiquette and very aware of what might be flu symptoms.

While traveling…

  • Wash hands with soap and water as often as possible. If soap and water aren’t available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.

  • Use sanitizing wipes to disinfect hard surfaces such as airplane tray tables, luggage handles, cell phones, door handles and seat armrests.

  • Remember to wash hands or use a hand sanitizer before eating any meals or snacks. It’s important to remember that you are touching a lot of surfaces that others are touching as well.  Make sure your hands are clean before you put anything into your mouth.

  • Bring personal blankets, pillows and earphones to avoid using something which may have been in contact with the flu virus.
  • After washing hands in a public restroom, turn off the faucet with a paper towel. Then use another paper towel to dry hands and open the door when exiting the restroom.

Have a safe celebration

Thanksgiving is all about food, family and friends. Here are some steps that will help keep the celebration happy and healthy:

  • Avoid the usual kisses and handshakes when greeting friends and family.
  • If hosting the holiday dinner and someone in the household becomes ill, make sure that they can be isolated into a separate area for care, or ask another family member to host dinner to avoid spreading the flu.
  • Wash hands frequently, before preparing food, while cooking, and especially before eating.
  • Keep plenty of hand soap in the bathroom, preferably in a pump container. Skip the pretty hand towels this year and instead use disposable hand towels or a roll of paper towels.
  • Consider putting the glasses away this year and using plastic cups, or provide a way for guests to identify their drinks. Don’t drink out of anyone else’s glass.
  • Put serving utensils in every dish, including snacks like nuts, pretzels, etc. This allows people to spoon out their portion instead of reaching in with their hands.

For more information about flu prevention, visit us at


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