Health officials: Steps for preventing the flu and what to do if you develop symptoms

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Richmond City Health District and Richmond Ambulance Authority are providing information to help inform Richmond residents about preventing the flu and steps to take if you become sick with a flu-like illness.

Influenza is currently widespread in every U.S. state except Hawaii.

“Everyone should be serious about preventing the spread of the flu virus. The first step is to avoid catching it; if you have not been vaccinated, influenza vaccine will help provide immunity to the flu virus, and will lessen severity of symptoms if you do happen to come down with the flu.”

Other important preventions include:

  • Diligent and frequent washing of your hands and hands of young children
  • In congregate settings, frequently clean and disinfect shared surfaces such as tabletops, toys, and even doorknobs
  • Avoid sharing drinking and eating utensils
  • Eat nutritious foods: fruits and vegetables; drink plenty of water
  • Get enough sleep and reduce stress

Anyone who become sick with flu-like symptoms should stay home and avoid contact with other people when possible. Children and adults should stay out of school and away from work until symptoms are no longer present.

Treat symptoms while resting at home; symptoms include fever or chills, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, runny or stuffy nose. Some people may have vomiting or diarrhea. Persons with severe symptoms should seek medical care.

Because of widespread flu that is occurring throughout Virginia, hospitals and emergency departments are seeing increases in numbers of patients presenting with influenza-like symptoms. This is requiring the rerouting of some cases to other facilities. However, residents are assured that this is a coordinated activity.

According to the Central Virginia Healthcare Coalition, all Central Virginia hospitals are open, accepting patients, and operating normally. During periods of unusually high patient volume, hospitals in the region have pre-planned to coordinate the routing of ambulances to hospitals most capable of providing the appropriate level of care to patients in the least amount of time possible.

Since 2002, all Central Virginia hospitals have engaged in cooperative planning through the Central Virginia Healthcare Coalition to ensure that patients receive the right care, at the right place, and at the right time, even when demand for the healthcare delivery system is high.

Click here and here for more information about influenza vaccination, prevention and treatment.

Find 8News on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram; send your news tips to