NORTH TEXAS (CBS11) – As the number of flu cases continues to climb across North Texas, a ‘too-close’ cough, a stranger’s sneeze and anyone can be exposed. So experts say vulnerable groups– seniors, those with chronic health conditions, and the very young– should take extra precautions, and it doesn’t have to be complicated.
“Hand washing is the main thing after playing at the park, or after he’s at school and before he eats,”says Emily O’Neil, mother of a 3-month-old and a busy toddler.
O’Neil already has her heart and hands full. So, she’s doing all she can to protect her family from the flu.
“Definitely concerned,” says O’Neil. “Especially with a new baby… definitely more sensitive to what’s going around, more protective.”
Want to take prevention a step further?
“If you have a young baby who’s at risk, stay at home,” says Pamela Okada, M.D. Dr. Okada is the Medical Director of the Emergency Department at Children’s Medical Center Plano and a professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center. She suggests keePing the youngest North Texans away from large crowds during flu season.
“There are lots of environments where flu is being spread: so to keep the young babies safe, keep them at home. If you have visitor ask them ‘wash your hands before you touch my baby’ right? Washing your hands is probably the best ways to prevent the spread.”
That message is also resonating in senior communities: another vulnerable population.
For example, in Bedford, Brookdale’s Eden Estates began delivering meals to residents’ rooms and canceling group activities after an alarming number of residents complained of flu like symptoms.
And the safety precautions don’t stop there. According to a statement provided by company spokesperson Heather Hunter, “…out of an abundance of caution to help contain the illness, we have asked visitors to delay visiting residents.”
Doctors say although the flu is already widespread, it is still a good idea to get vaccinated.
“We expect it; but, we’re very interested in preventing it,” says Dr. Okada.
“Especially now that we have this little guy,” says O’Neil. “We made sure that everyone in our home gets it.”
If the flu bug still bites– or your little one’s under the weather and you’re still not sure– experts at Children’s Health have shared this advice to help parents determine when it is best to just watch and worry, call the doctor or call 911.