Dancing with the Stars while Dodging the Flu: Precautions Taken

Today’s People magazine (online) reports on how various Dancing with the Stars contestants are trying to treat or prevent the flu. Let’s compare their remedies with official guidance from government public health authorities and the World Health Organization.

10.22.dancing

Dancer Method Comment
Aaron Carter “I took medicine.”
“I use a hand sanitizer every five seconds.”
The only medicines effective for treating the flu are the prescription drugs Tamiflu and Relenza. Certain non-prescription medications can relieve the symptoms (although you can still spread the infection to others). Hand washing with soap and warm water is the preferred method but hand sanitizers are recommended when you can’t wash your hands.
Derek Hough “I wear a mask during practice with Melissa Joan Hart” Surgical masks and N95 respirators are one part of an infection control strategy that also includes frequent hand washing and social distancing (see below).
Dmitry Chaplin “No flu shots yet but definitely a lot of vitamin C.” Public health officials recommend that people get two vaccinations this year, one for the regular (seasonal) flu and one for the 2009-2010 H1N1 (swine) flu. Vitamin C is not recognized as effective for either the prevention or treatment of influenza.
Joanna Krupa “Some homeopathic stuff from the doctors.” The most important thing to do about the flu is keep yourself well-informed about effective prevention and treatment methods from reliable and authoritative sources.
Lacey Schwimmer “I’m keeping my distance from Derek and Mark [Ballas].”
Mya “It’s all about the massages – they get rid of a lot of toxins.” Influenza is spread by close social contact so unless your therapist has been vaccinated and wears a mask and gloves during your massage, it’s probably best to avoid them.

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Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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