Ways Farm Workers can stay healthy

Those in the agricultural industry often work close together. As flu season is upon us, it is important to know how to keep yourself healthy and protected from some of the most contagious illnesses.

Whooping cough

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a highly infectious illness that is spread from person to person by coughing or sneezing. Whooping cough usually starts with a mild cough, runny nose and a fever. While the symptoms are much like those of a common cold, after a couple of weeks whooping cough can cause severe coughing fits that can last weeks or even months. These coughing fits can be violent and may cause vomiting.

Whooping cough is less severe in adults and teens, but is extremely dangerous to infants and can lead to hospitalization. Because early symptoms are similar to the common cold, whooping cough is not diagnosed until symptoms get worse. The best way to prevent whooping cough is to get vaccinated.

The California Department of Public Health recommends that everyone get vaccinated against the illness—especially women of childbearing age, those that have close contact with infants, anyone 65 years or older, as well as infants and children not already vaccinated for whooping For more information on vaccinations cough (pertussis).

Influenza

Influenza, or the flu, is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. The illness is usually spread through coughing or sneezing and can cause mild to severe symptoms, even causing death. Symptoms include: Fever, cough, sore throat, headache, chills, muscle aches and fatigue or tiredness.

While you can prevent the spread of the flu virus by washing your hands frequently and covering your mouth when you cough, the best way to prevent contracting the flu is through vaccination. Getting the flu vaccine now can also help prevent H1N1 influenza, a more severe strain of the flu virus. Also, if you are sick with the flu, or any other illness, it is best to stay home from work in order to not infect others.

The flu season generally runs from November through May, but most cases occur in January and February. It is important to get vaccinated as soon as possible to prevent contracting and spreading the virus. Experts believe that everyone six months and older should get a flu vaccine each year starting this flu season (2010-2011). You can get a flu shot at many grocery stores and pharmacies throughout the state.