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Flu Tips for Smartphone Users

Jan. 31, 2013

Nowadays, people take their phones with them everywhere they go, from the gym to the bathroom and then to the dinner table and even to bed. Throughout your day, you inevitably shake hands, touch doorknobs and staircase railings – and then you touch your phone and put it against your face.

Viruses are known to live on inanimate objects like phones, particularly in colder climates and seasons (because heat kills viruses) so we need to be aware of who we share or pass our phone to.

With flu season in full swing, it’s crucial that we keep our phones germ-free. The flu has been spreading fast across the country this year, with more than half of states reporting widespread activity. In fact, this year’s flu outbreak is one of the worst in a decade, says the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Below are tips from Dr. Geeta Nayyar, AT&T’s Chief Medical Information Officer, to help you avoid getting the flu and other harmful germs from your phone:

Consider getting a flu shot. If you are sick and experiencing flu symptoms, do not share your phone and stay home to avoid infecting others. Keep your germs to yourself.
Avoid sick people. If you share your phone with friends or family be careful, you may be sharing more than just your phone, you may be spreading a virus!
Wash your hands frequently. Sing a verse from a familiar song (e.g., “Happy Birthday”) while lathering and rinsing. Don’t rush. If soap and water are not available to wash hands then use disinfectant like hand sanitizer.
Wash your phone! If you think it has been contaminated, disinfect your phone. Use a wrung-out disinfectant wipe or spray a paper towel with disinfectant. Don’t spray the phone. (Remember that washing your hands and then touching a dirty phone or keypad is self limiting).
Try using a Bluetooth device or other hands-free headset, minimizing your keypad-to-face exposure
Don’t – please don’t – use your phone in a restroom. Some things can wait!
Find more information about the flu at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention site here: http://www.cdc.gov/

You can use your smartphone to get you thru the flu season with a variety of apps. The CDC has an app that lets you track treatment and information and they are even running a Flu app challenge- with $35,000 in prizes.

FluFACTS Fight the Flu: helps you track flu info in your area; assess symptoms, offers helpful tips to fight the flu or ways to stay flu-free.
iPhone apps from Duane Read, CVS and other chain drugstores throughout the region have apps to track locations nearby and on-hand supplies of shots.
Flu Near You app will help you determine if the flu has hit your neck of the woods and can help you find flu shot locations.
If you don’t have a doctor near you, the ZocDoc app can assist with locations of medical professionals and their insurance networks.
The WebMD app may save you the trip to the doctor. You can identify symptoms, learn about possible conditions and get advice about treatments.

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