As the holiday season hits full stride, local doctors want families to stay alert of the contagious illnesses that can spread as we all pack together to shop, travel on planes and trains or simply enjoy festive food and cheer together at parties.
Even before COVID became the most anticipated holiday threat, tens of millions of people were ill with bugs and viruses that are common around the holidays. In the 2019-2020 winter season alone, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that there were as many as 56 million cases of the flu nationwide.
This is why medical providers with American Family Care (AFC), a national healthcare network with a local clinic, are reminding families not only to watch out for Delta and Omicron COVID germs this holiday season, but keep in mind the OTHER cruds that can make you very sick this time of year!
AFC’s healthcare providers have even identified “The 12 Cruds of Christmas”:
1. COVID — Needing no introduction, COVID-19 is still a threat this winter with the combination of existing and emerging variants and its ease of transmission.
2. Common Cold — Nasal congestion, sore throat, coughing and headaches are common symptoms of the various mild viruses that are common in winter months.
3. Flu — Different from a cold, the flu is a contagious respiratory illness that can affect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs, causing fever and fatigue.
4. Pneumonia — an infection of the lungs that can cause mild to severe illness, often the result of viral or bacterial infections.
5. RSV — Respiratory Syncytial Virus is a respiratory infection common in children and babies, which can cause fever, coughing, wheezing and lead to more serious infections.
6. Bronchiolitis — A common lung infection in young children and infants which is most prevalent during the winter months.
7. Croup — Another respiratory infection but one more concentrated in the upper airways, blocking breathing and swelling the voice box and windpipe.
8. Strep Throat — A bacterial infection that can cause sore and scratchy throat but can also lead to more serious fever and other symptoms.
9. Mononucleosis — Sometimes called the “Kissing Disease,” mono is a viral infection spread by saliva, causing sore throat, fever, and other symptoms.
10. Norovirus — A contagious stomach bug that often leads to vomiting or diarrhea, and what is commonly referred to as a stomach flu.
11. Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease — A common but often mild viral infection in young children, this can result in mouth sores and blisters.
12. Christmas Tree Syndrome — This is real! When trees are places inside warm homes, sometimes a mold can grow and trigger allergic reactions.
AFC providers are also urging families to play it safe while out and about shopping, traveling and visiting relatives.
They also offer tips on how to protect yourself and others during the holidays:
Keep sanitizer handy or wash hands frequently.
While shopping or traveling, use a knuckle to punch buttons on a debit/credit card key pad. This way if you rub your eye or mouth with your fingertip, you are not transferring germs.
When showing new family photos off at parties and gatherings, wipe off your smartphone screen as you pass it around.
Put down the vape pen! Hundreds of respiratory illnesses are related to vaping every year. Research even shows puffing on an e-cig disrupts your normal immune response to viral infections, like flu.
Get vaccinations and boosters for COVID and/or flu. Vaccines prevent death from either of these highly contagious viruses.