4 Healthy habits that can protect your family from the flu

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SEATTLE - The number of flu deaths in Washington state went up to 114 in the latest flu report. Mumps cases are up as well.

Local health workers say we’re seeing an unusual number of back to back disease outbreaks. We went to one of King County’s top doctors to find out how you can protect yourself. Dr. Jeff Duchin is the Public Health Officer for Seattle and King County as well as an infectious disease specialist. He should know the secret to staying healthy!

“I know how to stay healthy,” he laughed. “I wouldn't say it's a secret."

You've been learning the most important healthy habits since you were little, just like two year old Issabella. Her mom Kelly Brunell is an elementary school teacher and a bona fide germ battler.

First thing in the morning after changing Issabella, they head to the bathroom to both wash hands.

“We can't prevent 100% of contact with all the infectious agents out there,” Dr. Duchin said. “But we can decrease our risk. The more you wash your hands, the better you're going to decrease your risk."

Since you can’t wash constantly, he also says to keep your hands away from your face.

“A lot of people like to touch their face, touch their nose and touch their eyes. That's a great way to inoculate yourself with the latest bug that's spreading in the community.”

Also, cover your coughs.

"Issabella absolutely knows what to do. She coughs into her elbow," Brunell said.

That’s good.

"Anytime you can cover up, you're doing your community a favor," Duchin said.

Next tip: stay home when you're sick.

And one of the most important healthy habits, get vaccinated.

"Shots are important,” Brunell said. “We keep her up to date on immunizations and the flu shot. She just recently got that."

Finally, Dr. Duchin said to get enough sleep, eat well, exercise, and if possible, keep your stress levels down. That will help your immune system do its job.

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