Local businesses, schools deal with increase in colds, stomach bugs

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) Schools and businesses across the Wichita area and beyond feel the impact in recent days of cold and flu season.

Health experts say the current uptick in sicknesses isn't to any new, out-of-control level, but the seasonal situation serves as a reminder to be on germ defense, everywhere you go.

Hart Pharmacy Manager Annie Haney says she's seeing "a lot of people with all kinds of symptoms."

"Some stomach bugs going around, some vomiting, some diarrhea, some colds more than anything," she says.

Wichita Public Schools Director of Health Services Kimber Kasitz says the district is seeing more students and staff absent this week than last week as "the sick bug" seems to be everywhere.

So, what can you do to stay healthy?

"Hand hygiene is still No. 1," Haney says.

When it comes to hand sanitizing, Kasitz says you should wash them vigorously for about 20 seconds in warm water and soap. She also stresses the importance of getting a flu shot and says despite more people locally getting sick in recent days, it's not too late in the year to get one.

For some, that's standard practice.

Sylvia Schmidt says she washes her hands a lot and makes sure to have hand sanitizer available when she doesn't have immediate access to soap and water.

Jerry Baker says he also washes his hands more often and at least for now, avoids shaking hands with people.

Keeping your hands clean is a good start, but health experts say there's more to staying healthy during cold and flu season.

"Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze," Haney says. "We tell the kids to do the vampire cough, which is into your elbow. So, that way they're not spreading germs everywhere."

If you do get sick, there are important steps to take to keep from spreading the bug.

"The best thing to do is to stay home until you're feeling better, especially if you're running a fever," Haney says.

Kasitz says the message she relays to parents in the Wichita school district is to stay home when you or your children are sick.