Health officials advise disinfecting spaces amid flu outbreak

Posted: Updated:
EDISON -

It may seem like common sense, but health officials are warning everyone to wipe down any surface that they touch in order to prevent the spread of illnesses.

The United States is currently in the midst of an unprecedented flu outbreak. Nearly 3,200 people have caught the flu in New Jersey alone.

Health officials say that commonly used surfaces like water faucet and refrigerator handles and keyboards and phones should be wiped down with disinfectant to remove germs.

RELATED: Worst flu outbreak in years hits New Jersey

People should also wash their hands with hot, soapy water for about 20 seconds. Dr. Patricia Whitley-Williams of Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School has a tip on how to know when you've washed your hands long enough.

"It usually takes about 15 to 20 seconds to sing…the ‘Happy Birthday’ song. So if you if you sing it while you're washing your hands then, by the time you end it should be about 20 seconds,” she says.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the H3N2 influenza strain is strong this year. The flu vaccine is only about 40 percent effective against this strain.

Health officials say that Bergen, Monmouth and Ocean counties have been the hardest hit by the outbreak in New Jersey.

Flu season can last until May.

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