WASHINGTON - Touching door handles, sharing toilets and shaking hands can easily spread the flu virus, especially at a time when hundreds of thousands of people travel to the District for the presidential inauguration this weekend.
While the Washington area is accustomed to seeing large crowds of visitors every four years for inaugural events, health care professionals are bracing for an increased number of sick people due to the national and local flu outbreak.
According to Dr. Bruno Petinaux of George Washington University Medical Center, local hospitals are preparing for a flood of flu victims by adding more staff to local emergency rooms.
"We know that it comes every year; every fall and every winter time we know that the flu is coming and we're prepared for it," Bruno says.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warns the best you can do is try to avoid people who are actively coughing and sneezing. Fauci also recommends using hand sanitizer and sneezing into your elbow.
Fox channel 5 reports that those attending the festivities this weekend might be more susceptible to getting the flu virus since 800,000 people are expected to attend. Chances are, someone will have the flu.
Health professionals also warn that those attending the inaugural balls will be more at risk of coming in contact with the flu by being indoors, compared to those attending the outdoor swearing-in ceremony or parade.
Here are some tips from both doctors on how to keep healthy if you are planning to attend the inaugural events:
- Remember to keep hydrated.
- Wash your hands regularly.
- Avoid touching your face.
- People who feel sick should just stay home.
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