Santa Clara health officials concerned about flu spread

County health officials in the South Bay are concerned about the spread of the flu as people gather to watch the 49ers game Sunday.
January 17, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
Health officials are pointing out large gatherings at home or at sports bars can lead to more flu cases, but there are steps to take to avoid being sidelined.

The flu has taken two more lives here in the Bay Area, the latest victims are from Santa Clara County - ages 52 and 62. That brings the total number of flu-related deaths in the Bay Area and Santa Cruz County to 23. Six of the deaths are in Santa Clara County.

Health officials have some suggestions for sports fans gathering on Sunday to watch the 49ers-Seahawks game. They don't want to see the flu spread even further.

You know what's going to happen? sports bars and restaurants will be packed solid with fans to watch the game -- ideal conditions to spread the flu. So health officials are urging lots of hand washing. Fans agree.

"There's going to be a lot together on Sunday for this game, so it's a great thing to do," said Steve Cousineau, a 49ers fan.

An estimated 150 fans will gather at Campbell's Rock Bottom Brewery. General manager Sean McKennan hopes fans will be as conscientious as his staff, who follow good sanitary and food-handling practices.

"I worry about the flu just because it can spread so easily. With our staff, we wash our hands multiple times throughout the day, we wear gloves when we're handling food, and we're cautious of it, that's for sure," said McKennan.

However, Dr. Jeffrey Arnold, the chief medical officer at Valley Medical Center, says good ventilation is also important along with fresh air breaks to get away from flu particles.

"This kind of goes back to just common sense. The things that our grandmothers taught us: wash your hands, cover your mouth, nowadays we've added on get a flu shot. And I think if we do all those things, we've markedly lowered our risk, and we'll be fine," said Arnold.

If you do get exposed to the flu, you'll know it in just a few days after Sunday's game.

"Usually within one to three days, someone might begin to feel the symptoms. Sometimes it can stretch out for longer," said Santa Clara County Health Officer Sara Cody, M.D..

We noticed some stores have put hand sanitizer on sale to promote its use. But some people think it's impossible to avoid the flu.

"Well, I have a friend she washes her hands 85 times a day, and she's sick more than anybody else I know," said Ellen King, who is a skeptic of the idea washing your hands will prevent the flu.


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