5 tips to avoid getting the flu or spreading it

FRESNO, Calif.

Influenza generally moves from east to west as temperatures get colder across the country. It has arrived in California and the valley in full force. We saw evidence of that at Children's Hospital where the emergency room was packed with sick kids.

It's Tuesday afternoon and the emergency room at Children's Hospital Central California is filled with fussy, sick children and worried parents, like Stephanie Ruyle. Her two-year-old son Brent has been coughing, sneezing and had a 102 degree fever. "He's been on medication for at least two weeks already, and it's gone away and then this morning it hit him really hard."

The start of flu season varies slightly from year to year, but usually hits the valley in mid January. Children's Hospital has already seen 86 confirmed cases.

Dr. Robert Kezirian said, "This started in Florida, we were hearing about cases there, and then we heard about cases in Texas, and we knew it was coming."

Young children are more susceptible to the virus, especially those with who have a compromised physical condition, like asthma.

Dr. Robert Kezirian said, "They have more problems because they can develop secondary bacterial infections, like pneumonias, they get sicker, they don't have the defenses to fight off these viruses as readily as more healthy children. So those are the ones we really are worried about."

To stay healthy and keep the virus from spreading, the California Department of Public Health recommends:

1. A flu shot for everyone 6 months of age and older.
2. Stay home when sick.
3. Cover your cough or sneeze.
4. Wash your hands thoroughly using soap and warm water.
5. And eat a balanced diet, drink plenty of water and exercise.

At Children's Hospital, there's a campaign to get as many employees immunized as possible, and reminders everywhere for patients, visitors and staff, to sanitize on the way in, and on their way out.

Dr. Robert Kezirian said, "When we have healthy people here in the hospital, it also protects the public."

If you're a parent, Doctor Kezirian says to try and keep people from touching or kissing your babies this time of year. If you have to cough -- cough into your elbow, not your hands.

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