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FOR RELEASE: February 24, 2005
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Cover Your Cough
Stop the Spread of Germs That Make You and Others Sick

Public health officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) are joining with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to promote the simple health habits that can keep you from becoming sick during influenza season. Cover Your Cough is a public health education campaign to remind Oklahomans of the practices that prevent the spread of germs that make you and others sick.

Some of the serious respiratory illnesses like influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), whooping cough, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) are spread by coughing or sneezing and by hands contaminated with these organisms.

The OSDH reports that influenza is now widespread in Oklahoma. To help stop the spread of germs that cause influenza and other respiratory illnesses, 

OSDH public health officials recommend the following healthy habits:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.
  • Put your used tissue in the wastebasket right away.
  • Wash your hands after coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands often to protect yourself from germs. Wet your hands with warm water, before you add soap. Use friction to create lather, wash for 15 to 20 seconds, then rinse well and pat dry.
  • The alcohol-based hand rub is designed to work on hands that are not visibly dirty. Rub the gel into your hands, being sure to get between fingers and the backs of hands. Allow your hands to air dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth: you can infect yourself with illness-causing organisms that your hands have picked up.
  • Avoid close contact with persons who are ill if you can.
  • Stay home when you are sick. Do not bring illnesses to work. You will recover faster if you get plenty of rest and drink fluids.

In addition to covering your cough and other healthy habits listed above, there is still time for those who have not received their influenza vaccine to be vaccinated, since influenza activity in Oklahoma most likely has not yet peaked.

For information about influenza prevention tips or to get an influenza vaccination, contact your health care provider or the county health department in your area.

You can also find current information about influenza at the OSDH Web site www.health.ok.gov . Click on the “Flu Facts, Updates and Resources” link at the top of the page.

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