This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.While winter continues in Carson City, so does the spread of flu in our community. During the past week, Carson City and Douglas and Lyon counties saw a 150 percent increase in the number of flu cases reported to the Health Department. The largest increase was in Douglas County. Regionally, many people are being seen in hospitals, doctor's offices, and urgent care clinics for influenza-like illness. Area citizens have been taking steps to fight the flu, with Carson City Health and Human Services' Long Street office reporting that 412 people were vaccinated against the flu in the community health clinic during the past week. The clinic will continue to offer flu vaccinations on a walk-in basis daily this week as well. The hours are 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-4:30 p.m. The cost for a flu vaccine at Carson City Health and Human Services is $15.Being vaccinated is an important way to prevent the flu, but there are additional steps that you can take to reduce your risk of becoming sick this year. Health officials encourage everyone to use good health habits to minimize the spread of flu: • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective if there isn't water available. • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way. • Try to avoid close contact with sick people. • If you get sick with influenza, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. The flu is a respiratory illness, and can be severe in some people. The flu usually comes on suddenly, and people who have the flu may suffer from fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches and headaches, and fatigue. Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults. If you begin to experience these symptoms, stay home from work and school to help those around you stay healthy.For more information about Health Department services, check out our website at www.gethealthycarsoncity.org or “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CCHHS.