ND flu season is mild so far, but one big way to help prevent it is washing your hands for 20 seconds

Flu season: A time of the year we avoid our sick coworkers like the plague.

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FARGO — Flu cases so far this year in North Dakota are about half of what they were last year.

"Our flu numbers are quite a bit lower than they were this time last year," said Brenton Nesemeier, an epidemiologist with the North Dakota Department of Health.

He explained there were roughly 1,500 flu cases at this time last year, compared to 750 this year.

The numbers could still spike, though.


"We may just be in a later flu season. We don't know when the peak season is going to be," said Nesemeier.

But the No. 1 step people can take to beat the bug is washing their hands.

Washing hands may seem like a no-brainer, but a recent United States Department of Agriculture study found that up to 97 percent of people do it wrong, if they even do it at all.

A separate Center for Disease Control and Prevention study found only one in three men wash their hands after every bathroom break, and only two out of three women do.

Sanford nurse practitioner Laura Rupp said it's crucial to properly wash your hands as many people simply don't wash their hands for a long period of time.

"Warm, soapy water, scrub for 20 seconds. Hand sanitizer is just as effective so you can use hand sanitizer as well," Rupp said.

She said if a person skimps on the soap or tries to cut corners, pathogens can survive.

Proper hand hygiene can prevent other illnesses as well.


"I've seen a lot of more common cold and sinus and upper-respiratory things," said Rupp.

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