Mom and the CDC’s tips on how to avoid the bug

Joe Pisani bemoans the endless cycle of shoveling snow.

Joe Pisani bemoans the endless cycle of shoveling snow.

Joe Pisani /

My wife rushed over to my daughter’s home last week because my grandson was running a fever and throwing up. He even got a bloody nose, which for a 3-year-old is as terrifying as seeing Pennywise the clown in the bedroom window at night.

We have four daughters, and when there’s a crisis, the first thing they do is dial M-O-M, and the first thing M-O-M does is jump in the car and break land-speed records to get to the scene of the disaster. I suspect she always wanted to be a first responder.

They took the little guy to the doctor, and when Sandy got home, I asked what happened and she replied: “The doctor said there’s a bug going around.” Is that a term they use at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been told “There’s a bug going around,” especially when I’ve been sick as a dog and no one could tell me anything about the bug ... except that it was “going around.”

My mother always said, “There’s a bug going around.” Even though she wasn’t a doctor, she watched “Ben Casey” and “Doctor Kildare” every week, which was probably worth six credits at Yale School of Medicine.

My sister’s a doctor and she often says, “There’s a bug going around,” which, I suspect, is a habit she acquired while interning with our mother.

For the 10 years I commuted into the city — five hours a day — and whenever there was a bug going around, I was sure to catch it. Riding on Metro-North during flu season is as bad as being in daycare during an outbreak of chicken pox, pinkeye and head lice, all at once. You can actually see viruses jumping from passenger to passenger.

I suppose I’m guilty of breaking the first rule of prevention, which is to stay home when you’re sick so you don’t spread your germs around — which is another medical term my mother used.

When we were kids, she’d always yell: “COVER YOUR MOUTH AND STOP SPREADING YOUR GERMS!” Who knew those pesky germs were on door knobs, shopping carts, railings, faucets, mailboxes and vending machines?

Now that I’m older and somewhat wiser, I carry hand sanitizer and try to remember not to touch my eyes, my nose, my mouth or my face, but I inevitably do and before you know it, I’m a CDC statistic.

I recently learned a new term from the CDC. It’s “non-pharmaceutical interventions,” or “NPIs” for those of us who have trouble saying words more than three syllables long. NPIs are “actions, apart from getting vaccinated and taking medicine, that people can take to slow the spread of illnesses like influenza.” You can’t take enough precautions nowadays, so here are a few simple ones to live by:

 Stay home when you’re sick.

 Avoid contact with sick people

 Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze

 Wash your hands

 Clean surfaces and objects that people touch

(I’m convinced the CDC stole these ideas from my mother. I may sue for plagiarism.)

As another preventive measure, I bought some ear-loop surgical masks, but not the deluxe kind that can protect you from super viruses. Mine are the ordinary ones that you see people wearing on the subway and streets of Manhattan. As much as I’d like to walk around with one of them on, I feel a bit self-conscious. I do, however, wear a face mask in the privacy of my home during allergy season, and now that my wife has the bug, I’m going to put one on.

All I can say is that bug certainly got around. It went from my grandson to his mother to her mother, to my son-in-law ... and now, it’s coming for me.

There’s a lesson in this for all of us. These are terrifying times to catch a bug, so stay safe and be cautious.

Joe Pisani can be reached at