Tips to avoid the flu during Carnival season

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - With Carnival season kicking off, doctors have some tips on avoiding the flu while out there among the crowds.

Some might think being out at packed parades would increase chances of catching the flu, but parade-goers might be safe.

"Being outside in the parade, unless somebody coughs directly on you, your risk of exposure is probably pretty low," Children's Hospital Medical Director Aaron Thompson said.

Dr. Thompson says because the transmission of the illness is through physical contact, it's usually spread in closed spaces.

"If you're at a Mardi Gras ball, something like that, where there's a lot of food and drink being changed, it's a good idea to use hand sanitizer before you touch food or drink or eat anything like that," Thompson.

Inside or outside, Dr. Thompson says with people in close contact, there's always a risk.

"If you're the one that's sick, it's always a good idea to stay home and keep from exposing other people," Thompson said.

Doctors say it's also a good idea to wash your hands, especially after catching beads that may be contaminated with flu germs.

Another health tip is to stay hydrated.

"Any time you're dehydrated or something like that, it does lower your immune system and make you more likely to get sick," Thompson said.

While some may believe alcohol could ward off the virus, doctors debunked the myth.

"Alcohol, if you use it on the surface, will kill it, but just by drinking alcohol, it will no way prevent you from getting sick," Thompson said.

Although flu season started early this year, it's not close to being over.

"What we're seeing is because of the cold weather, we actually took a little tip, and now we're really starting to see the flu cases pick back up again. So I'd say we're probably at the peak right now," Thompson said.