Flu: the key to prevention is in your hands Published Dec. 8, 2006 By Lt. Col. Kevin Murphy Commander, 45th Aeromedical-Dental Squadron PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Often, the first signs of the flu are a runny nose, sneezing, a cough and a high fever. Every time you cough or sneeze you release tiny virus particles into the air. If you happen to cough or sneeze into your hand you are contaminating your hand and every surface that your hand then comes into contact with, including your co-worker, computer keyboard, telephone, etc. What can you do to reduce the spread of the flu virus? First, you should practice good cough and sneezing hygiene. Sneezing into a tissue and coughing into the sleeve of your shirt greatly reduces the number of airborne virus particles. Both techniques also reduce the amount of virus on your hands. Secondly, you should practice good hand hygiene. Wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap, rubbing hands together vigorously for 20 seconds. Alcohol-based hand cleaners provide several advantages over soap and water: they require less time and can be used anywhere, kill microorganisms more quickly/effectively, and are less irritating to skin.The 45th Medical Group is offering flu vaccines for all DoD beneficiaries and GS personnel. The Immunization Clinic is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday 7:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. and 1-4:30 p.m.; and Tuesday and Thursday, 8:30 - 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. For more information regarding the flu vaccine, contact the Immunization Clinic at 494-8131.