Have you ever ventured out of the house, gone to a business meeting or traveled by air when you thought you might have the flu? If you answered yes, you are among a majority of Americans who fessed up in a recent survey to being "that guy" who goes about his or her day despite experiencing the sudden onset of fever, aches and chills commonly recognized symptoms of the flu.
As the U.S. flu season peaks, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) has launched "Are You That Guy?" a national influenza educational campaign that encourages personal and social responsibility by raising awareness of how easily the flu virus spreads.
According to a recent national poll, almost 7 out of 10 Americans (68 percent) did not realize that flu viruses can travel five to six feet from a sneeze or a cough, and two-thirds (66 percent) admitted to going about their daily activities despite experiencing flu symptoms.
"Its easy to downplay the signs of influenza, particularly when daily obligations call," says Dr. Susan J. Rehm, NFID medical director and vice chairman of the Department of Infectious Diseases at the Cleveland Clinic. "While many of us feel we can power through the flu without getting others sick by avoiding shared objects or shaking hands, its important to remember that the influenza virus is commonly spread through the air and can travel up to six feet away when someone coughs, sneezes or even speaks."
"Influenza is serious and highly-contagious," adds Rehm. "Vaccination and good hygiene habits are important steps to avoid getting the flu. If you have flu symptoms, its important to act quickly, see a doctor and follow your doctors advice. No one wants to be that guy who puts others at risk for flu."
Millions of Americans get the flu each year and it is associated with substantial medical costs, more than 200,000 hospitalizations and thousands of deaths every year in the U.S. Influenza symptoms include sudden onset of fever, aches, chills and extreme tiredness. Colds are usually milder than the flu, come on more slowly and people with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. If diagnosed with the flu, a doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication to attack the flu virus and help stop it from spreading inside the body. Antivirals can also help prevent individuals exposed to the flu virus from becoming sick.
As part of the Are You That Guy? campaign, NFID released a broadcast public service announcement (PSA) to motivate Americans to take care of themselves and be considerate of others when exhibiting flu symptoms. The PSA is also available on YouTube for download search for http://www.youtube.com/flufacts.
More information about the campaign can be obtained by visiting www.NFID.org. People can also track flu outbreaks in their region and receive alerts about flu in their communities by visiting www.FluFACTS.com and using the Flu Tracker or by downloading a free Fight the Flu iPhone app www.FluFACTS.com/iphone-app.jsp.
The "Are You That Guy?" campaign and survey is supported by Genentech, a member of the Roche Group.
The survey was conducted by Infogroup/Opinion Research Corp. in November 2010. The findings are based on telephone interviews with a national sample of 1,006 adults, 18 years and older. The findings are projectable to the adult U.S. population with a margin of sampling error of ±/ 3 percentage points. Subgroups will have a large margin of sampling error. Interviewing was conducted from November 18-21, 2010. Responses were weighted by demographic factors, including sex, age, geographic region, and race to ensure a reliable and accurate representation of the population.