Wednesday, October 8, 2014

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – The changing season may bring cool weather and beautiful fall colors, but it also brings the viruses that cause the common cold and the flu.

Flu season typically runs from October to March. Summit Health employees have already taken precautions to keep our community safe.

Beginning this year, all health care personnel at Summit Health will either be immunized for influenza or will wear a surgical mask when at Summit Health facilities while the influenza virus is active in the community.

"It's important that we're protecting our patients and ourselves from the flu virus," said Ericka Kalp, director of epidemiology and infection control at Summit Health.

"We are also encouraging everyone in the community to protect themselves and take steps to prevent the flu."

The best way to protect ourselves from the flu is by getting a flu shot, Kalp said.

"It's especially important for people who are at a higher risk of developing severe complications from the flu," she said.

To find flu shot locations near you, call your doctor's office or visit

The flu and the common cold can have similar symptoms – fever, body aches, tiredness, and cough – but in general, they are more intense with the flu.

Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of the following:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Purple or blue discoloration of the lips
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but return with fever and cough

Washing your hands properly is also a great way to not only stop the spread of germs, but also protect yourself, Kalp said.

Kalp provided tips for proper hand washing:

  • Use warm water and soap
  • Wash both sides of your hands (don't forget your wrists, between your fingers and under your nails.)
  • Wash your hands for at least 15 seconds.
  • Don't forget to dry your hands on a paper towel, and use the towel to turn the water off. Then use the towel to open the bathroom door as you leave.